Hangin' With Mr. Cooper: Prenda's Fight Against Alan Cooper Flailing Badly

from the that-would-be-illogical dept

Prenda: the gift that keeps on giving. Late last week there was some movement in the ongoing fight directly involving Alan Cooper and Prenda. If you don’t recall, Alan Cooper — who was a caretaker for one of John Steele’s homes — claimed that Steele put Alan Cooper’s name and signature on various documents, such as those suggesting that he was the person behind shell companies AF Holdings and Ingenuity 13 (two of the shell companies that Judge Otis Wright found were actually controlled by Prenda’s principles, including John Steele, Paul Hansmeier and Paul Duffy). Prenda tried to handwave this issue away, but also refused to answer any basic questions about it. In response, Cooper sued both Steele and Prenda (remember this, it’ll come up again).

In response, Prenda as a company, and Paul Duffy and John Steele as individuals, all sued Cooper (and his lawyer and anonymous internet commenters) for defamation in state courts in Illinois and Florida. Steele dropped the Florida suit (we believe due to a pretty big procedurial screwup), and the two cases in Illinois were removed to federal court. About this time, Steele called Cooper and left voicemails that are clearly bullying/intimidation attempts. It is, of course, a big legal no-no to directly contact someone (rather than their lawyer) who is suing you while litigation is ongoing, but Steele tried to get around this in the voicemail by claiming the call was not about Cooper’s lawsuit against Steele (where Cooper was represented), but Steele’s lawsuit against Cooper. Since he was also suing Cooper’s lawyer, he knew that the same lawyer was unlikely to be able to defend Cooper in the same case, and in fact some filings in the case suggest that this point was made to his lawyer. Among the voicemails was this one:

Alan, this is John Steele again.

You have not responded or contacted me regarding litigation you’re involved in. I know you’ve been served with a third lawsuit. And there are more coming. Don’t worry about that.

Well, obviously, if I don’t hear from you, I’m going to start filing for certain default motions and start getting relief that way.

I can assure you that just ignoring legal matters, it’s not going to go away. I can guarantee you, I’m not going away.

So I highly recommend you at least, you know, follow the rules…. otherwise your life is going to get really complicated.

Cooper and his lawyer, Paul Godfread, then filed counterclaims in the two remaining defamation cases (one from Prenda and one from Paul Duffy who supposedly runs Prenda). Then Paul Hansmeier (named as one of the Prenda principles by Judge Wright), now representing Paul Duffy and Prenda, argued that the defamation case should never have been removed to federal court from state court, because his own law firm in Minnesota was added as a plaintiff in an amended complaint and you can’t get “diversity” needed to remove from state to federal court if two opposing parties are in the same state. As we noted at the time, it seemed like adding Hansmeier’s Alpha Law firm was a complete sham, because nothing in the amended complaint involved any defamatory statements towards Alpha Law firm.

Phew. So that catches you up to last week. A few interesting things then took place last week. First, on Monday, in the original case that Cooper had filed against Prenda and John Steele in Minnesota, Godfread asked the court for a default judgment because Prenda/John Steele had never replied. Note that Steels has been insisting that Cooper’s claims are bogus and that this would all come out in court. If that were true, you’d think that he would have bothered to respond to the damn lawsuit. Also ironic: note above how Steele claimed he would go after Cooper for default. Godfread also points out that Steele and Prenda clearly knew about the case because of the lawsuits they had filed in response. So, they ask the court for a default ruling… and ask for the $4,641,000 that they estimate Steele and Prenda made via lawsuits using Alan Cooper’s name.

That very same day, Prenda and Steele finally filed a response (as found by John Henry). The response is basically “we deny everything possible.” Of course, as pointed out by Z.Y.U., Minnesota Law (MN R. Civ. P. 12.01) requires an answer within 20 days after service, and we’re way, way outside of that.

Leaving that particular case aside for the moment, and jumping back to the Defamation case that Duffy and Prenda had filed back against Cooper and Godfread (where they amusingly and ridiculously claim that lawsuit over identity fraud was “completely unrelated”), Cooper and Godfread have hit back at Prenda’s weak attempt to move it back to state court. They’re both represented by Erin Russell and Jason Sweet — two lawyers who have been fighting the good fight against Prenda for a while now. When Hansmeier first filed that attempt, we noted that Prenda’s history of being less than forthcoming in its filing made me wonder if it was being somewhat misleading with that filing — and I would reserve judgment until the inevitable reply was filed. And, yes, it suggests less than full honesty from Hansmeier.

First, it makes a strong case (as I had suggested) that Hansmeier’s firm, Alpha Law Firm, was added for no other reason than to try to keep the case in state court and out of federal court. But, even more importantly, it points out that Prenda apparently mislead the court in getting the amended complaint filed. That’s because to amend the complaint, Prenda would first need to ask the court for leave to amend, which it did not. Even worse, the lawyer representing Prenda, Kevin Hoerner, apparently convinced the court clerk that there was no need to take that important step because (he claimed) the defendants (Cooper and Godfread) had not yet been served. Except (1) they had and (2) Prenda knew they had because John Steele called Godfread hours after they had been served (and days before this “amended” complaint was filed) and left the following voicemail:

“Mr. Godfrey. This is John Steele calling. I understand that you just got served. So, I do need to know if you are going to be representing Mr. Cooper in this suit as well. Obviously there is a conflict of interest that I can see but obviously I’m going to have to defer that decision about whether you are going to represent your co-defendant to you. Uhm and I leave the question as to the other suits that are coming your way in the next few days, I’ll just wait until you actually get served before I bringing those up, but at least on this issue, this suit, I do need to know if I may contact Mr. Cooper directly or if I will be working through you. All right. Thank you.”

That’s the call I mentioned earlier in which Steele was making sure that Godfread wouldn’t represent Cooper in this particular case, which Steele seems to think made it okay for him to reach out directly to Cooper. So, Prenda knew that the defendants had been served, and told the court they had not in order to file an amended complaint, where the amendment appears to be solely to add a sham plaintiff in the same state as Cooper and Godfread to block them from removing it to federal court. Oh, and did we mention that Hansmeier’s filing to move the case back to state court was filed well past the deadline to make such a filing?

As I said, Prenda is the gift that just keeps giving.

In another filing, Russell and Sweet, representing Cooper and Godfread, also hit back at Prenda’s attempt to dismiss their counterclaims. Here, the most interesting part is more evidence being filed that Steele pretended to be Cooper. In particular, they file a document from GoDaddy, showing what is clearly John Steele (it’s using his email) registering various domains while claiming to be Alan Cooper. Just last week Steele demanded to see evidence that he faked Cooper’s name. Well, there it is. That same document also shows that the domain was originally filed with Prenda’s address in Chicago, but then was moved to what appears to be John Steele’s sister’s house in Phoenix. Oh, and also customer service records that show that John controlled the account.

And, just for good measure, there are a couple more filings showing that John Steele (and sometimes Paul Hansmeier) bought the various domain names used by Prenda Law (despite claiming that they had nothing to do with the firm) and that Steele continued to control that account (he called for customer service a few times) for quite some time, again contrary to Steele’s public statements.

I fully expect to see Steele continue to tapdance around this, and maybe give a few more interviews to the press where he doesn’t really answer the questions, but it would seem that reality has an unfortunate habit of eventually coming out. Given all of this, it would look like Cooper has a pretty strong change of winning his initial lawsuit against Prenda and Steele (though I doubt the $4 million is going to show up) and Prenda and Paul Duffy’s nuisance defamation lawsuit in response is probably in trouble as well.

Oh, one more fun tidbit in the filings. I’d mentioned above the absolutely ridiculous statement in the lawsuits against Cooper and Godfread, that Cooper’s lawsuit against Prenda was a totally “unrelated matter.” Yet, the filing notes that not all of Prenda’s lawyers were told not to admit the connection. They point out that in the infamous case in Georgia, where Prenda’s local counsel Jacque Nazaire has tried to get the court to ignore Judge Wright’s finding of fact because California recognizes gay marriage, Nazaire also flat out admits that the cases are connected. Sweet and Russell suggest: “Apparently, Atty. Nazaire did not receive Plaintiff’s memo to lie to the Court on this issue.” Ouch. Oh, and there’s a lot here, but extra credit goes to whoever finds where Russell and Sweet did a slightly subtle homage to Judge Wright’s famous ruling.

Filed Under: , , , , ,
Companies: prenda, prenda law

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Hangin' With Mr. Cooper: Prenda's Fight Against Alan Cooper Flailing Badly”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Given Cooper was originally hired to watch over some of Steele’s land/house(s), I’m betting the angle is going to be ‘Well see, out of the kindness of my heart I let him use my computer and email for personal use, but then the dastardly man went and started registering domain names with my email, though he was at least honest enough to use his own name when he was doing it.’

Of course that may be giving him a little too much credit in the intelligence/maturity categories, so it’ll probably be more of the same: objecting to evidence being presented, suing or attempting to sue Cooper’s lawyers, and trying to get yet another judge dismissed if he even looks like he might consider allowing the evidence.

Rich Fiscus (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I would be shocked if Steele, or even Prenda’s paper principal Paul Duffy, made any claims WRT the factual claims. They effectively painted themselves into a corner when the took the 5th in California. Prenda will most likely file their usual nonsensical procedural arguments attempting to drag the whole thing out as long as possible. At this point they have nothing to lose considering any potential monetary sanctions will most likely be a drop in the bucket compared to the damages likely to be awarded for the identity theft claims.

Wally (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

You know, there are three benefits to Prenda dragging this out.

1. The more Prenda drags it out, the more they will have to pay in attorney fees to their representatives.

2. It’s quite entertaining to see them die very slowly and the defendants not having to pay one cent to their own lawyers is AWESOME.

3. This case will now definitely set the case against the MPAA and especially the RIAA.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I am fairly certain that RIAA and MPAA will clamp their noses and ignore the Prenda crew. There may be a strong case for some measures against copyright trolling, which the two will absolutely hate, but there will be little substance towards the upcoming renegotiation of DMCA!

out_of_the_blue says:

WALL OF TEXT is Mike's homage to stupid lawyers.

Yeah, I wish he’d QUIT, but while he does go on with this useless mania, it’s amusing, must be driving casual readers away…

For something of interest, topical, and relevant, read:

What freetard are you: Justified, transgressor or just honest?


That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: WALL OF TEXT is Mike's homage to stupid lawyers.

Flail, flail little Prenda sycophant, as your idols’ lies continue to be torn to ribbons and exposed to the public and the very justice system they used to run their extortion racket for so long…

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, just as entertaining as Prenda’s pathetic attempts at lies, misdirections, and fraud, your repeated and hopeless attempts to pretend like nothing is happening never fails to amuse, so thanks again for the laughs.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: WALL OF TEXT is Mike's homage to stupid lawyers.

This is completely off-topic for this thread. You’re obviously trying to derail the conversation.

Even so, it’s worth a response at least.

What freetard are you: Justified, transgressor or just honest?

…written by Andrew Orlowski, one of the biggest Luddites and outright liars that has ever worked for “Big Content.”

I particularly like how he: 1. misrepresents the results of the report, and 2. insults its authors, while 3. not even giving a link to the report itself.

The actual study is here:
OCI Tracker Benchmark Study
?Deep Dive? Analysis Report

And here are some articles that are actually honest about what the report says:
Ofcom Study Shows Piracy Isn?t So Cut and Dry
Piracy research once again shows biggest downloaders spend the most
‘Worst’ File-Sharing Pirates Spend 300% More on Content Than ‘Honest’ Consumers

In reality, it’s just more research that shows how very, very wrong you are. So, thanks for bringing it up!

…Now, back to our regularly scheduled program.

Anonymous Coward says:

Copyright enforcement’s best and brightest. It couldn’t possibly stop at trying to contact Tanya Andersen’s daughter at kindergarten, masquerading as her grandmother. Oh, no – plaintiffs are adamant to demonstrate that they’re willing and prepared to break every law in the books to make sure artists (read: Chris Dodd and Mitch Bainwol) get another solid gold Humvee.

average_joe must be so proud, bless his little heart.

Anonymous Coward says:

Found the homage

Footnote 5 in the third document.

“Despite a preponderance of judicial precedent to the contrary, John Steele insists”[t]he fact that people take the
Fifth Amendment, against compelled testimony, is not allowed to be a negative inference.” Joe Mullin, “Look, you
may hate me”: 90 minutes with John Steele, porn troll, Ars Technica (May 10, 2013). Defendants find such an
assertion … highly illogical.”

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

This keeps getting worse and worse…
As SJD reported Duffy is still sending out letters from the newest incarnation of their shell game of firm names seeking payments and they flat out plainly say they will call the targets neighbors asking if they are responsible for downloading the porn on your account…


Isn’t it time that someone actually stops them from extorting the long list of names they have obtained by defrauding the courts? This is one of those times when Justice needs to move faster to protect citizens.

Wally (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Oh it gets deeper from there….apparently a former RIAA lobbyist who somehow ended up as a Federal Court Justice apparently approved initial discovery on IP Addresses on multiple John Doe’s so AFHoldings (AKA Prenda Law, AKA Lightspeed Adult Entertainment/Lightspeed Girls) could get users’ personal ID from ISP’s….AT&T, COX, TimeWarner, and Verizon all filed a joint brief to the 11th circuit of appeals in the US Supreme Court to have Justice Howell’s decision reversed.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I am very familiar with Judge Howell.
This is the Judge who didn’t care that she lacked personal jurisdiction over the people targeted in her court.
This is the Judge who went on the record complaining that ISPs and users had to do more to protect copyrightholders, ignoring that there is nothing in the law to support that view.
There are other oddities to come out of her district as well where it is suspected she applied pressure to other Judges to reverse decisions they made to allow discovery and such. There is a reason DC was such a popular district for Trolls.

One hopes after her decision is reversed she gets some sort of punishment for her behavior in these types of cases.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

One hopes after her decision is reversed she gets some sort of punishment for her behavior in these types of cases.

Do you really think that Beryl Howell’s behaviour on the bench has been worse than, for instance, Judge James H. Peck’s behavior ?

Lawless posted an anonymous letter rebutting Peck’s ruling in another newspaper. The authorship of the letter soon became known and Peck found Lawless in contempt of Court?.?.?.?.

Impeachment and acquittal

[Judge Peck] was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives on April 24, 1830 on a charge of abuse of the contempt power. The U.S. Senate began the trial of Peck on 26 April 1830 and acquitted him of the charge on January 1, 1831?.?.?.?.

The United States has impeached fifteen federal judges so far. Does Beryl Howell really deserve to be the sixteenth?

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“Intent to impair the public confidence in the upright intentions of said court, and to bring odium upon the court, and especially with intent to impress the public mind, and particularly many litigants in this court, that they are not to expect justice in the cases now pending therein.”

As there appears to have been pressure on other Judges in the district to support rulings not in the interest of justice, the ignoring the courts duty to make sure it actually has jurisdiction over people facing it, disallowing any challenge by people to protect their data being released by a court so far removed from their home because they are not a party to the case seeking their information, and the hand wringing that defendants should have been doing more than the law requires them to…

Note I said some sort of punishment, not impeachment. While I am very familiar with the cases, not familiar with all of the ins and outs of the Judicial system.

As it appears she makes rulings based on her former position lobbying rather than on the rule of law, one really needs to wonder is this someone we can trust to be the impartial figure at the head of trials?

I know of at least 1 Judge who recused herself from a case because she held stock in a company with a similar name to a plaintiff, but to avoid anyone questioning she removed herself from the case.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Let’s check out that hyperlink. Mental instability, intoxication on the bench, misuses of office, improper business relationship with litigants, abuse of power, favouritism…

“Does Beryl Howell really deserve to be the sixteenth?”

Do you really want that question answered?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Do you really want that question answered?

Yes. The question is being raised, and deserves a serious answer.

I will state that I do not believe impeachment proceedings should be brought in the House without good reason to believe that conviction shall be obtained in the Senate.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

You must be a lawyer.

It doesn’t take a lawyer to understand right and wrong.

Unless I can convict I shouldn’t even bother to bring a case.

That is the duty of a conscientious prosecutor.

It is utterly improper to bring proceedings for the sake of abusing the defendant?absent belief that you will ultimately prevail. If you do not have a good-faith belief that you can convict, you must ?of your own volition? move to dismiss. You must not wield the procedure itself as a club to bludgeon a defendant.

I understand that many prosecutors today do not respect their ethical obligations. It is common today to multiply and enhance charges merely to bring additional pressure for a plea?rather than with the belief that a court will ultimately uphold those charges. But such behavior is wrongful. It is as wrongful as the equally common behaviour of withholding Brady / Giglio material from a criminal defendant. It is not right. It is wrong. It is an abuse.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

“It is utterly improper to bring proceedings for the sake of abusing the defendant?absent belief that you will ultimately prevail.”

Aaron Swartz
Any case brought forward by Prenda, USCG, Evan Stone… the list continues

Run down the list of stories here at TechDirt and you can find a long list of cases being used to punish and/or harass using “interesting” versions of the law to support the claims.

Prenda has been handed lists and lists of names by courts who never took the simple step of limiting their use of them once the Doe cases were dismissed for failure to serve. It appears the single time a court told them to not use the list of names they filed named cases in another district.

What you imagine should be happening, does not happen.
People with money and power are routinely removed from the lists trolls pursue, by their own admission. Because they could fight back and expose the scam.

Prenda did not get here in a month, this has been going on as the world turned a blind eye to people being crushed by a legal system all to willing to give their names to lawyers who routinely managed to never name anyone in court, unless they thought they could get a default.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

What you imagine should be happening, does not happen.

Well, take the prosecution of former Senator Ted Stevens. After it came out that DoJ had withheld Brady / Giglio material from the defense, one of the prosecutors, Nicholas A. Marsh, 37, committed suicide. So, you see, at least one prosecutor took his ethical obligations seriously.

Seriously enough to commit suicide over it?I don’t know how much more seriously a prosecutor can take their ethical duties. At any rate, we can demonstrate that it happens once in awhile.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

What they need is to lose their license to practice law. That’s really the only way this will stop. Otherwise, all they need is one judge to not see what’s happening, and they’ll always find that. Especially since they apparently aren’t above using one sham defendant who doesn’t oppose their discovery motion, and aren’t above continuing to get information from the ISP’s even after a quash.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

They are clearly abusing the lack of document-sharing between different courts to their advantage, but they are on their way to lose several things and probably in the end, their license. What is happening is a desperate stall to try to avoid the situation. There is absolutely no chance they will get away without getting ruined and/or ending in jail/fleeing the country. The stall will likely add to their punishment in the end, but they may be able to earn several extra years of freedom before they go bankrupt/end in jail and/or leave for Congo (Somalia is getting far too much help from international society to remain the pinnacle of anarchy. Congo is in constant civil war like Somalia and the stability of that situation is assured by their large amount of resources and the treachery of their neighboring countries.)

Wondering says:

Pro-Prenda Sites?

Just wondering… are there any web sites out there covering this case from Prenda’s POV? Clearly there are many sites pointing out what dummies they are, but, this being the Internet, there must be some group of Prenda fans out there, pointing out the brilliance of each of their arguments.

One would think Prenda would have arranged for this.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Pro-Prenda Sites?

I’d think the ArsTechnica interview with John Steele is the closest you’ll get. It’s hard to imagine any sites would dedicate themselves to pure, blatant support for Prenda, however. John Steele admits that they’ve “lost the PR war”, and aside from a few one-time angry posts from pornographers on sites like FCT and DTD, as well as some flailing and whining from horse with no name here (the latest anonymous anti-anonymous jackass), you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone singing Prenda’s praises.

Prenda could arrange for a publicity site, but considering that their best representative is Nazaire, going by his attempt at PR, Prenda could dig another few feet to bury themselves in and achieve the same effect. John Steele’s in no liberty to register for more GoDaddy domains under Alan Cooper’s name.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...