Team Prenda Done Fighting Judge Otis Wright
from the govern-yourself-accordingly dept
Well, one of the big Prenda cases may finally be over. As you may recall, the first truly scathing legal ruling against Team Prenda came a little over three years ago when Judge Otis Wright basically lit Team Prenda on fire. If you haven’t read that whole decision in a while, it’s still a thing of beauty. Here’s just one paragraph:
Plaintiffs have demonstrated their willingness to deceive not just this Court, but other courts where they have appeared. Plaintiffs? representations about their operations, relationships, and financial interests have varied from feigned ignorance to misstatements to outright lies. But this deception was calculated so that the Court would grant Plaintiffs? early-discovery requests, thereby allowing Plaintiffs to identify defendants and exact settlement proceeds from them. With these granted requests, Plaintiffs borrow the authority of the Court to pressure settlement.
Since this was their first really major loss in court, Team Prenda still brashly insisted they would prevail on appeal, and that Judge Wright’s ruling would not last. At the time Prenda mastermind John Steele even insisted that this was the only time that they had lost:
But very few people can argue that these [sanctions] are allowed, legally. The overwhelming majority of courts have found in our favor in hearings. The only cases that stand out are Judge Wright.
Of course, since then, court after court after court after court after court has ruled against Steele (there are more, I just got tired of finding them all). And, of course, Steele is facing discipline from the Illinois Attorney Discipline Board and, quite possibly, criminal trials (where the investigation likely began following Judge Wright’s ruling, which passed along the info to law enforcement).
In the midst of all of this, Steele’s big appeal of Wright’s ruling, that he was so sure about, fell flat on its face back in June. For all of Steele’s talk about how Wright was totally off base and there was no basis for sanctions, the 9th Circuit didn’t buy it at all.
The district court did not abuse its discretion in ordering the Prenda Principals to post additional bond to cover Doe?s attorney?s fees on appeal. The district court had ample reason to do so. The Prenda Principals have engaged in abusive litigation, fraud on courts across the country, and willful violation of court orders. They have lied to other courts about their ability to pay sanctions…. They also failed to pay their own attorney?s fees in this case. Considering the Prenda Principals? tactics throughout this case, it was not an abuse of discretion to increase the bond amount to cover the projected cost of attorney?s fees on appeal.
Given all that, the case went back down to Judge Wright and, finally, it appears that this case is really over. Earlier this week, Judge Wright basically closed out the case after Steele and Hansmeier* agreed to settle rather than try to fight on, with the insurance company that had originally secured the bond they needed to get to cover the possible sanctions, SureTec, agreeing to pay out the money. (*Well, not really Hansmeier — since he filed bankruptcy, the bankruptcy trustee handled it for him instead).
Doe, Steele, and Hansmeier filed a stipulation and proposed order with the Ninth Circuit seeking to settle all issues that were the subject of the appeal, the relevant terms of which are as follows: (1) Doe shall be paid a total amount of $132,393.75, which consists of the original $81,319.72 sanction, $278.73 in interest, and $50,795.30 in costs and fees incurred on appeal; (2) Doe will move this Court for summary adjudication of SureTec?s obligation on the bonds in the amount of $132,393.75, which Steele and Hansmeier agree not to oppose; and (3) Doe, Steele, and Hansmeier agree not to file any further motions, appeals, or petitions for writ of certiorari on the issues adjudicated on appeal.
Judge Wright accepts the agreement and the case is basically, finally, over.