Yet Another Prenda Gambit Fails: Judge Agrees To Sanctions Against Paul Duffy Over Bogus Defamation Lawsuit

from the oops dept

Remember back when Prenda sued everyone for defamation? The lawsuit targeted Alan Cooper (whose name multiple courts have now said Prenda forged) and his lawyer, Paul Godfread (while insisting the lawsuit was unrelated to the lawsuits Cooper brought against them), but also went after a bunch of blog commenters for anonymous comments they claimed were defamatory. Prenda even tried to subpoena Automattic (makers of WordPress) to get the IP address of pretty much everyone who visited either or That subpoena failed. As did the lawsuit. Badly.

The judge has now approved Godfread and Cooper’s request for sanctions against Prenda and Paul Duffy (who claims to be the sole lawyer behind Prenda, which has now been “dissolved”).

U.S. District Judge John Darrah at a brief status hearing today granted the motion for sanctions that defendants Paul Godfread and Alan Cooper filed this past fall against Prenda and Paul Duffy, who served as the firm’s sole officer before it dissolved and now serves as its attorney in the matter.

There’s still some effort to go, as the lawyers for Godfread and Cooper, Erin Russell and Jason Sweet (whose names you may recognize for other work they’ve done bringing down Prenda) have to submit an itemized fee list, followed by Duffy’s response, and then the follow up response from Russell/Sweet. A hearing will then be held in June, meaning there’s still plenty of time. However, it looks like another lump sum will be added to Prenda’s large and growing tab.

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Comments on “Yet Another Prenda Gambit Fails: Judge Agrees To Sanctions Against Paul Duffy Over Bogus Defamation Lawsuit”

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BSD32x (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You do make a good point, in that ultimately the tragedy of this is that Prenda doesn’t have a real client to go after for damages (since they are the client). Hopefully we’ll be reading about Malibu Media and the copyright holders of The Company You Keep, Elf Man, etc. being on the losing end of some of these since they have (I think anyway) much more easily verified and seized property/income.

I still think it’s good that Mike does these stories though, because Prenda would like nothing more than for this to go away and all three of its principles to take up their next scam a few years down the line. It’s also worth remembering that only the Federal stuff is publicly available, so their could very well be a ton of ADA suits and the like we just don’t know about ongoing, they’re far from dead. It seems like it’s mainly Steele’s name that has crossed over into mainstream, non-tech knowledge, keeping Duffy and Hansmeier up in the Google searches may just tip off someone on the other end of an ADA or Class Action Objector case.

BSD32x (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Okay, looked it up. “Once again, all of these lawsuits that Hansmeier gets involved in seem to show a fairly similar pattern, looking for scenarios where it will almost always be less of a hassle to just pay off Hansmeier to go away than to challenge the (often questionable) legal claims in court. It’s unclear how many of these ADA lawsuits Hansmeier has filed. There are only two in federal court, where they’re easy to find, but the latest one was actually filed in Minnesota state court, and was then removed to federal court. For all we know there could be more in Minnesota state court, which are harder to find out about. Either way, Hansmeier really seems like the kind of person who gives lawyers such a bad reputation.”

David says:

Re: Re: Re:

I still think it’s good that Mike does these stories though, because Prenda would like nothing more than for this to go away and all three of its principles to take up their next scam a few years down the line.

I don’t think they even have three principles. Their first one would likely be “grab all you can”, the second “lie when you can”. But those two are already subsumed under the governing “whatever you can get away with” principle.

out_of_the_blue says:

Thanks! Been missing hooting THIS mania in particular!

Yot, just when I thought the long and pointless string of Prenda items was at long last over, here it is again.

ZOMG! Yet another item on Prenda Law! A staple in the soporific “At The Bench” series. Mike sez (short version): “Wow. Wow. Wow. … The story is gripping.

You’ve found the site of Internet Quipper Mike “Streisand Effect” Masnick! — As you’ll frequently be reminded!


That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: WTF?!?

The problem is they’re lawyers, they know all the spots to throw sand in the gears to slow things down, and it means that any judgements against them has to be ironclad, otherwise they’ll just wiggle out of them, something the judges know, which means they have to be careful to be as ‘fair and impartial’ as possible, even when that means giving team Prenda far more leeway than any regular person would get.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: WTF?!?

Good lawyers? Not hardly, the problem is that as lawyers they know a whole bunch of little tricks, loopholes, and other things they can use to try and get out, or delay, punishment for their actions, and the thing is even if the judge knows full well what Prenda is doing, they still have to go along with it, or risk having their ruling(s) overturned by another court due to a technicality.

Not having to worry about such trifles as ‘professional ethics(or any other sort)’ certainly helps out too.

bobby b says:

Judgment-proof? Or, not . . .

Duffy likely has some form of professional liability coverage in his insurance. (I say “likely” only because more attorneys have it than not.)

So, if he does have such coverage, and if he can convince his new judgment-creditors that their only chance of being paid lies somewhere within that policy . . . well, watch for some quiet settlement agreements wherein everyone now agrees that he was ordered to pay those fees because of some act of negligence on his part that made it necessary that the Awardees retain and pay lawyers.

Which will then be presented to his insurer by the Insured Duffy, with his request that the company make good on their contract for insurance and pay the awards for him.

Which will result in screams of outrage and vows of battling to the death, etc., and frantic flightloads of insurance managerial types from their home offices out to whichever regional place it was in which Duffy bought his insurance.

And when the dust settles, his insurer will pay out an agreed-upon 73% of the policy limit (ymmv), which will go to the Awardees based upon what they’ve been awarded by the judges.

Or not . . .

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