Court Says Team Prenda 'Flat-Out Lied' To Court; Hits Them With $261k More In Attorneys' Fees To Pay Up

from the boom dept

Another court, another set of problems for Team Prenda: Paul Hansmeier, Paul Duffy and John Steele are certainly in trouble, and the damage just keeps adding up. Following yet another big loss for Team Prenda in Illinois, in Lightspeed Media v. Anthony Smith, we noted that Prenda’s ridiculous decision to sue Comcast and AT&T for failing to hand over names in that case was backfiring in a big way, since both of those companies asked for attorneys’ fees as well. Duffy, Hansmeier and Steele did their usual dance: filing motions arguing that none of them did anything wrong, that the ruling should be overturned, and (of course) that there was a violation of due process because they weren’t informed about these proceedings. This is basically the same crap they file every time.

Southern District of Illinois Judge Patrick Murphy is having none of that. In a scathing opinion he rips to shreds the arguments of Duffy, Hansmeier and Steele. Beyond noting the basic procedural deficiencies in their own filings (once again, they don’t seem to actually understand the law and just fling as much shit at the wall as possible, and the judge clearly recognizes this), he also appears to be well aware of the larger scam Team Prenda has been pulling. There’s a long discussion about the claim that Hansmeier and Steele weren’t properly served, in which the judge makes it clear this is simply beyond belief. Here’s just a snippet of a much longer discussion:

First and foremost, Steele’s claim that he never got notice of Smith’s motion for fees is baseless. A review of CM/ECF records reveals that notice of Smith’s motion for attorney fees (Doc. 61) went to numerous email addresses, including: docket@wefightpiracy.com—an email address used by both Steele and Paul Duffy. Therefore, it is irrefutable that Steele had actual notice of Smith’s motion for attorney fees prior to the Court’s order granting the motion.

The judge also points out the tremendous evidence that Steele, Hansmeier and Duffy are working quite closely together on all of this anyway.

Aside from being from the same firm, there is other evidence suggesting these three men worked in concert with one another. First, Duffy, Steele, and Hansmeier used each other’s CM/ECF login information, and/or filed documents on behalf of one another. For example, both Steele and Hansmeier used Duffy’s CM/ECF login information to enter their appearances, or Duffy attempted to do so for them (See Doc. 11, 15); Hansmeier also used Steele’s CM/ECF login information to file his motion to continue, or Steele filed it on Hansmeier’s behalf (Doc. 73). Second, the similarities in documents filed by Duffy, Steele, and Hansmeier indicate an ongoing relationship. For example, in the instant motions to vacate/reconsider, the three men use identical formatting from the caption, to the font, and the signature block, and the substance is largely the same…

Then, of course, there’s the citation to the numerous other cases that have found against Team Prenda, and noted that those three are clearly in control. The judge also notes that even if they didn’t have notice, they clearly had notice in time for a later hearing and still their filings did not state any actual grounds for relief. Basically, the judge points out that they absolutely knew about all of this, and he won’t overturn the original decision because for all the shit they threw at the wall, none of it actually stuck.

But then the judge goes further. He calls them liars. He doesn’t dance around it. He flat out calls them on it.

The Court also finds that Duffy, Hansmeier, and Steele exhibited a “serious and studied disregard for the orderly process of justice.” …. These men have shown a relentless willingness to lie to the Court on paper and in person, despite being on notice that they were facing sanctions in this Court, being sanctioned by other courts, and being referred to state and federal bars, the United States Attorney in at least two districts, one state Attorney General, and the Internal Revenue Service. For example, at the November 13 hearing, Hansmeier skirted the Court’s direct questions, Steele made feigned protestations, and both flat-out lied about their association with Prenda Law, Inc. in the face of documentary evidence on the record in this case, and their sworn declarations in other cases.

In the end, the judge grants all the requests for attorneys’ fees, adding yet another $261,025.11 to the rapidly increasing total from other cases. I imagine it won’t end there, though it’s unlikely anyone will see any of that money. Instead, we’re all still waiting for the main act, when the criminal charges almost certainly arrive.

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Companies: lightspeed, lightspeed media, prenda, prenda law

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Comments on “Court Says Team Prenda 'Flat-Out Lied' To Court; Hits Them With $261k More In Attorneys' Fees To Pay Up”

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60 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Indeed, just over half a million with this latest ruling against them, so if anything I severely underestimated just how large a hole, financially, they’d found themselves in.

Still, couldn’t happen to a more deserving pack of parasites, and the really fun bit this time around is that it’s not just a judge that will be annoyed when they (yet again) fail/refuse to pay up, they’ve got AT&T and Comcast’s lawyers to deal with, and I don’t think they’ll be quite as accepting of Prenda’s usual excuses and attempts to delay.

Anonymous Coward says:

it is irrefutable that Steele had actual notice of Smith?s motion for attorney fees prior to the Court?s order granting the motion

Inconceivable!

Next the judge will say that sticking your fingers in your ears and yelling “LALAAICANTHEARYOUICANTHEARYOU” at a deposition isn’t grounds for not answering a question!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Now you've caught on to their ultimate plan...

Eventually they will come clean and explain how this whole “Prenda” thing was a reality movie in the making about how to game the legal system for fun and profit while pretending to care about copyright…

Of course once the movie is made, they will post it to various file sharing sites and sue anyone who dares to download it.

/s

OldGeezer (profile) says:

None of this will matter. Judge Wright ordered an IRS investigation. I doubt that he would have stated outright that they had not paid taxes on millions of dollars they had extorted if he was not pretty sure that it was true. None of their other shady actions could possibly get them longer jail sentences. No one will get paid because the government will seize everything they have.

Anonymous Coward says:

Email is not reliable

A review of CM/ECF records reveals that notice of Smith?s motion for attorney fees (Doc. 61) went to numerous email addresses, including: docket@wefightpiracy.com?an email address used by both Steele and Paul Duffy. Therefore, it is irrefutable that Steele had actual notice […]

“Irrefutable”. Ugh, no. Email is not reliable. Sending email to an address does not guarantee that it will be delivered. We have spam filters which silently drop email, antivirus scanners which silently drop email, many kinds of misconfigurations can silently drop email, a machine failing can silently drop email, network failures can cause an email to sit in the queue for many days, and the delivery failure message can be silently dropped for many reasons.

Can we please stop with this “we sent an email so we are sure they read it” thing, please?

Todd Knarr (profile) says:

Re: Email is not reliable

Wouldn’t matter. That e-mail address is entered by the attorney themselves as the address they want notices sent to. It’s their responsibility to insure mail sent to that address is handled properly once it’s presented to their mail server. It’s similar to physical mail: if you give the court the address of your mail-screening service as the address you want notices sent to, it’s not the court’s problem if they’re throwing notices away without giving them to you. You, not the court, were the one who elected to have them handle the mail. You, not the court, are responsible for what happens after the carrier delivers the mail to the service. If the service isn’t reliable, you, not the court, have the power to fix the problem by having notices sent to a more reliable address.

bobby b says:

Re: Email is not reliable

My impression was that all defendants had been served in the normal usual legal way – Postal Service mail, presumably, as they were already parties in the cases at that point, I think – and that the judge was just making it explicit that, what with the variety and mix of attempts by various people to make sure Duffy et al had full and complete and sufficient actual dagnabbed Notice, nobody was buying anybody’s lies about “but we didn’t know about . . . ?! . . .!”, so just STFU about that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Copyright enforcement’s best and brightest. It’s like kicking a retarded puppy in the face over and over except that I don’t feel guilty about it.

Let me guess, horse – this judge is an enemy of due process and intellectual property, too. You and darryl, average_joe, out_of_the_blue just can’t take it when due process is enforced, can you?

Go choke on John Steele’s dick, you sycophantic gaggle of fanboys.

Sunhawk (profile) says:

Re: Still have to ask

I still have to ask, why haven’t their licenses to practice law been revoked? They should be criminally liable for their behavior, and charged/sentenced accordingly.

Since it’s about as clear-cut as it can get without some bloodstained bills with the trio’s man-juice on it, I figure the courts are going through all the formalities as an example to the next bright lawyer who thinks he’s got a foolproof way to use the court to extort money from people.

Losing your license, being hit with fees… that might be shrugged off by an egotistical bastard – after all, if you rake in millions first, then you don’t care if you don’t have a license to practice or have to pay some percentages of it out; you’ve got enough money to live comfortably.

But referral to the IRS? Federal prosecutors? That might change their mind.

I fully expect at this point to see some jail time for the trio. Probably not more than five years apiece or anything, but I’m fairly certain the judges are getting irritated enough to hunt for anything that puts them in a cell.

GEMont (profile) says:

Prendators and Prey

Methinks the Prendators will soon be following their money, long ago transfered to some nice small country where the US cannot legally chase them.

I cannot imagine a bunch of crooks like these guys NOT having an exit strategy in place, and with the millions they’ve stolen via legal extortion, they have a damn good reason to disappear.

The courts are so slow to respond to these law-abiding criminals, that they should be able to escape Scott-Free with ease, probably the same day that one of the judges finally turns them over to law enforcement.

Would love to see a tally of the total capital lost to the US taxpayer due to these guys. I guess I’ll have to wait till the movie comes out.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Prendators and Prey

They’ve gotten millions, but not THAT many millions – certainly less than they’d expect as lifetime earnings. Nor do I see these guys wanting to live in Guatemala, or wherever they’d need to run. I suspect their exit strategy was “don’t get caught, or successfully bull your way out if you are.” I don’t think it went beyond that.

No Tell-n What (profile) says:

Re: Prendators and Prey

I cannot imagine a bunch of crooks like these guys NOT having an exit strategy in place,

Truth be told, I’ve mulled over this very thought in my mind. I strongly suspect there is no exit strategy and there never was one. The hugely narcissistic egos involved would never admit to even speculating on any kind of failure to their schemes. How can you have an exit strategy if you can’t conceive of even a remote possibility of anyone objecting to your superlatively superior intellect?

I also suspect the smartest or .. most probably .. the most cunning of the bunch was Lutz. I doubt he was ‘done in’ by his compatriots nor do I think he’s still working in cahoots with the Prenda Cohort. Rather, he’s simply gathered together what he could in liquid assets including what he could get from the Prenda Cohort as the price for his silence and has exited ‘stage left’. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if no one in the Prenda Cohort can even contact him anymore.

My opinion is based on both the concept of “Never attribute to malice what can be done by stupidity” and of seeing first hand people who simply cut their losses and run at the first sign of trouble.

What I find really funny is that the remaining Prendanistas appear to be too egotistical to cut their losses and admit defeat much less admit they’re wrong.

DB (profile) says:

There was a mention of a cashier’s check in a hearing transcript of the Wright case. So I presume Prenda actually posted the bond.

I can’t predict what they’ll do here. This is a significantly larger amount of money than the Wright case, it’s due in only 14 days, and it’s difficult to see an appeal going anywhere. It’s expenses rather than damages, and Prenda didn’t dispute the rates or hours, so the appeals court isn’t likely to reduce the amount.

My first reaction is that they won’t pay. But without posting a bond for an appeal, the judge’s finding of fact will be final. And that multiplies their difficulties in other cases.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

They can still try to file an appeal, however in the big leagues where one governs oneself accordingly they file everything late.
As with Judge Wright, they will appeal to the Judge (merely a required step) then file an appeal with the appeals court and should have to post a bond for the amount required.
Then we sit and wait for the wheels of justice to lurch forward a bit more.

The only interesting portion is will they attempt to represent themselves, as was tried and failed in the 9th Circuit, or try to find someone to represent them. Given how it is public knowledge they shafted the team representing them before Judge Wright, I think it will be very hard for them to find anyone willing to work for free (like everyone attached to these cases has claimed).

It will be interesting to see what an empty shell has to offer to secure a bond.

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