Another Big Loss For Team Prenda, As Their Bills Keep Adding Up
from the getting-expensive dept
Last week, Team Prenda took another big loss and got smacked around by another judge ordering them to pay even more in attorneys’ fees. The list is really starting to add up. This case, which involved Prenda representing porn producers Lightspeed (rather than one of their own shell operations), had been sitting out there for a while, but it was one of the cases that involved Prenda trying to route around the trouble they’d been having with copyright claims by arguing a computer hacking violation instead. And, on top of that, it involved Prenda going after AT&T and Comcast for refusing to just blindly hand over the names of people attached to the IP addresses listed. Back in April, Prenda had filed a ridiculous response to lawyers Booth Sweet asking for attorneys’ fees. Given everything that’s come out (and, honestly, much of which had already been public) the hubris of Prenda’s Paul Duffy is impressive. In the lawsuit he attacks Booth Sweet arguing that they “routinely file baseless motions for attorneys’ fees in hopes they will eventually get lucky.” Of course, Booth Sweet’s track record is pretty strong here, and while it took a few months, the judge in the case, Patrick Murphy, realized that it was Team Prenda who was really playing games:
The litigation smacked of bullying pretense.
Elsewhere, the judge notes that awarding attorneys’ fees is appropriate “when counsel acted recklessly, raised baseless claims despite notice of the frivolous nature of these claims, or otherwise showed indifference to statutes, rules, or court orders,” suggesting that he sees Team Prenda’s actions as fitting into those categories.
At this point, all of these attorneys’ fees wins are more or less meaningless. It’s doubtful that any of them will get paid (though, there does appear to be money somewhere…). The main event, a more thorough investigation and possible criminal charges against Team Prenda still await — but those things take time. Still, that isn’t stopping Team Prenda from pulling their standard response to these kinds of rulings against them, pulling the same failed tricks out of their increasingly frayed trick bag.
In this case, it involves Paul Hansmeier claiming “what? who, me?” in response. He notes that, while he was involved in the case at some point, briefly, this was really a Paul Duffy case all along, and he, Hansmeier, along with his partner in crime John Steele, simply had no idea this case was even still going on, let alone that they might be on the hook for potential attorneys’ fees. As unbelievable as that might be (and potentially a process violation — since Hansmeier is no longer a lawyer in this matter, he shouldn’t make filings in the case without first getting permission from the court), the bigger issue is that this is the first time I can recall where Hansmeier and Steele appear to pretty clearly be throwing Paul Duffy under the bus.
If you haven’t been paying attention, Team Prenda has been gradually dwindling as the main players have gradually thrown the redshirts under the bus one by one. Brett Gibbs went down first, but Mark Lutz was a recent addition to the under-the-bus crew. But, from the beginning, many have argued that Duffy was the patsy for Steele and Hansmeier, and here’s a case where Hansmeier appears to be leaving Duffy out to dry on yet another failed case. You’d think that Hansmeier would be more careful, because if there’s anyone who likely knows all the details of how Prenda is setup, it would be Paul Duffy. As they say, never throw anyone under the bus who might take you with them. Hansmeier and Steele seemed to miss that with Brett Gibbs, and now they’re repeating it with Duffy. As for Lutz, he still seems to be completely MIA, which seems increasingly suspicious… especially since Hansmeier insisted that Lutz would appear shortly to answer questions the court had asked.