Richard Liebowitz's 'Client' Sends Judge A Letter Saying He Was Totally Unaware Of Multiple Lawsuits Filed In His Name
from the oops dept
Oh, copyright troll Richard Liebowitz is at it again. Last month, we wrote about an absolutely massive benchslap he received, as a judge detailed pages upon pages of Liebowitz lying to various courts, filing questionable lawsuits, and doing all sorts of things no lawyer should ever do. And now that list is getting longer.
Apparently Liebowitz has spent nearly two years engaged in a lawsuit in which he never informed his own client about anything related to the lawsuit. The client — a photographer named Glen Craig — seems reasonably upset by all this. I know I would be.
Dear Judge Yandle,
I learned for the first time last week about a case that Richard Liebowitz filed in this Court in 2018 in my name: Craig v. PopMatters Media, Inc. He dismissed the case and PopMatters has a motion pending for its attorney’s fees. This is all a total surprise to me. Richard blindsided me. He didn’t tell me anything about this case, or another case he filed in the Northern District of Illinois, until yesterday after I demanded an explanation.
You can see from the docket that this case took the usual path of many Liebowitz cases. Sue first (in September of 2018) and then when the other side starts to push back, Liebowitz cuts and runs, filing for dismissal. Later, PopMatters sought attorneys’ fees for having to deal with the nonsense lawsuit, and then there had been some back and forth paper filings between PopMatters (represented by Dan Booth, who has become a constant thorn in the side of Liebowitz) and Liebowitz, who continues to try to get out of this case without getting into any more trouble.
And a bombshell dropped yesterday when the judge saw this letter from Craig — ostensibly Liebowitz’s client — in the lawsuit, stating he had no knowledge at all of the lawsuit. The judge notes that while it’s quite irregular for a party to the lawsuit to directly file documents, this seems to be a special case:
While “hybrid representation” (i.e., a represented party filing papers on her own) is generally prohibited, see Carlson v. CSX Transp., Inc. 745 F.3d. 819, 826 (7th Cir.2014); United States v. Chavin, 316 F.3d 666, 671-72 (7th Cir.2002), Plaintiff’s assertions in the attached letter are directly material to Plaintiff’s exposure to and liability for attorney’s fees and costs being sought in a motion currently pending before the Court (see Doc. 10 ). Accordingly, the letter shall be included in the record for the Court’s consideration.
And with that the letter is added to the docket. The first paragraph is above, but it goes on beyond that:
He never told me PopMatters used my photograph. He never asked me if it had been licensed to anyone or I would have told him about my license to Sony. He never told me he was going to file either lawsuit and he did it without my knowledge and without my permission. He never told me PopMatters made offers to settle each case. He never told me PopMatters filed a motion for attorney’s fees in either case. He never consulted me about anything.
That’s… really bad. That’s the kind of thing a lawyer might get disbarred for. Craig notes that Liebowitz seems to also be violating the contract they signed, let alone basically all fundamental ethics rules for lawyers:
In the retainer agreement. he agreed to “keep You informed of the status of your matter, and agree to explain the laws pertinent to your situation, the available course(s) of action, and the attendant risks.” Richard violated that at every step of this case. I agreed “to fully cooperate with the Firm in the administration of the matter” and “seriously to consider any settlement offer that Attorneys recommend before making a decision to accept or reject such offer.” Richard made that impossible because he never told me about the lawsuit or PopMatters’ settlement offer.
I have now seen the response that Richard filed in this Court on June 11, 2020 without consulting me. He wrote, “Plaintiff choose the Southern District of Illinois as his venue of choice, in part due to the availability of his counsel, Liebowitz Law Firm.” I was never consulted about this action and did not choose to file it at all. I would not have authorized filing it in this Court if Richard had asked. Richard made every choice, not me. He also wrote that “Defendant has failed to show that Plaintiff’s counsel acted in bad faith, and therefore the request for sanctions should be denied.” I do not know how Richard filing a lawsuit without my knowledge could be anything other than bad faith.
Richard did all this behind my back and without my authority. I had no idea about this lawsuit or the lawsuit in the Northern District of Illinois until I got a demand from PopMatters’ lawyer on June 29, 2020 for the attorney’s fees award that was entered in the Northern District of Illinois in March, also without my knowledge.
That is… really, really bad. And then, even worse, is Liebowitz’s response when Craig finally called him about this. You may recognize this side of Liebowitz trying to weasel out of things from what he’s said in court in previous cases when he’s finally called out by judges:
I sent Richard an email on July 6, 2020: “Richard, is this once again something you did and did not relay to me or ask me over two years ago. I have not spoken or heard from you since Feb. 2020 and now this. Please explain what this is and how I got mixed up in this matter.” We talked yesterday, July 7, 2020. I told him what I knew about the case and asked him, “How come you didn’t come to me?” He had no response. He tried to put the onus on me. “It’s par for the course” he said. “You roll the dice, you see what you get.”
Let’s be clear here: this is not “par for the course” for anyone other than Richard Liebowitz. This is not how any of this is supposed to work. It does seem to be Liebowitz’s standard practice to roll the dice and hope to get something good out of it, but this is not how a lawyer is supposed to behave. Craig seems to recognize all of this, and notes that Liebowitz has been rolling the dice quite a bit on his behalf:
I’m not the one who rolled the dice. That was all Richard. Last year in another case I caught him negotiating a settlement under the table without my knowledge. There are other cases that he filed in my name that I only found out about after the fact. This whole case is malpractice, a breach of my agreement with Richard and a total fraud. Now I know he’s a scam artist and I don’t want to be another one of his victims.
And of course, Craig notes that if anyone should pay attorney’s fees, that should be on Liebowitz, not himself:
I understand that PopMatters asked for its attorney’s fees either against me under the Copyright Act or as sanctions against Richard. He should have to pay any award, not me. I am asking you to please consider the facts of the matter and require Richard Liebowitz to pay the attorney’s fees to PopMatters.
Let’s just say that it’s not very often that a client shows up in court to tell the judge he has no idea that the lawsuit exists and hopes the judge will make his own lawyer pay the other lawyer’s fees.
I’ve said a few times now when attorneys’ fees have been awarded and potentially fell upon the plaintiffs who had hired Liebowitz that one hopes that Liebowitz was honest enough to warn his clients of the liability they might face. However, I didn’t consider that he’d started going around filing lawsuits without even telling those clients in the first place.
At this point, you have to wonder just how much longer Liebowitz will be allowed to practice law. I know these things take time, but the record of his misdeeds is really quite stunning.