Appeals Court Trashes Prenda's Appeal, Affirms Sanctions

from the many-shoes-dropping dept

The shoes keep dropping for Team Prenda (now basically down to just Paul Hansmeier and John Steele). As it appears that the FBI is getting close to bringing a criminal action against the two, it's big appeal in the 9th Circuit has fallen flat on its face. This was the appeal of Judge Otis Wright's blistering opinion, slamming Team Prenda for all sorts of dishonest and sketchy actions, passing on their info to law enforcement (possibly kicking off the FBI investigation) and issuing $81,319.72 in legal fees and sanctions for the games they played with the court, involving copyright trolling, lying about who actually ran the "company" that was suing (Ingenuity 13) and otherwise general lying to the court.

Steele had insisted that they would win on appeal and that Judge Wright was impossibly biased against them, but when the case was heard over a year ago, it appeared to go very badly for Team Prenda. And that's confirmed today with this short and sweet ruling by the appeals court upholding Judge Wright's original ruling. The crux: all of the evidence basically showed that Wright was absolutely correct that Hansmeier and Steele (and Paul Duffy, who has since passed away) were up to no good:
Based on the myriad of information before it—including depositions and court documents from other cases around the country where the Prenda Principals were found contradicting themselves, evading questioning, and possibly committing identity theft and fraud on the courts—it was not an abuse of discretion for Judge Wright to find that Steele, Hansmeier, and Duffy were principals and the parties actually responsible for the abusive litigation. Similarly, it was not an abuse of discretion for Judge Wright to find that the Prenda Principals were indeed the leaders and decision-makers behind Prenda Law’s national trolling scheme.
Also this:
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.
So, yeah, the grand appeal here has fallen completely flat. This is the second appeals court to do so, as the 7th Circuit did it a couple years ago too. At this point, it's difficult to see how either Hansmeier or Steele will keep their law licenses (though both have been filing ADA trolling cases in the meantime), and depending on how the FBI case goes, things may get even worse for them.

Filed Under: 9th circuit, copyright, copyright trolling, fraud, john steele, otis wright, paul duffy, paul hansmeier
Companies: prenda, prenda law


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    I.T. Guy, 10 Jun 2016 @ 2:00pm

    The Prenda Principal

    Actions like the antics of The Prenda bunch shall hence forth be known as... The Prenda Principal.

    Yo, I just copyrighted the hell outta that so don't even try to "steal" it Mike.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2016 @ 2:14pm

      Re: The Prenda Principal

      The Prenda Principal

      Steele and Hansmeier will probably sue for a copyright claim on it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 10 Jun 2016 @ 2:28pm

      Re: The Prenda Principal

      You probably meant "The Prenda Principle". A "Principal" is a person. Of course, a "Principle" isn't an action either, and "antics" describe actions.

      So even taking your grand copyrighted term only at phonetic value, it makes no sense.

      Not making sense would be a problem for patents, but of course it is not a problem for copyright (after all, the mostly brilliant nonsense in "Alice in Wonderland" had no problem getting copyrighted).

      So have lots of fun with your copyrighted "Prenda Principal" phrase. I doubt you will see a whole lot of infringement.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2016 @ 2:57pm

        Re: Re: The Prenda Principal

        There were three Prenda Principals, but one of them died. Considering Principal is a legal term, the courts might take umbrage against claiming first expression/trademark/public work/method, when the courts already talk about the Prenda Principals (a principal being the one legally on the hook for a law firm's antics).

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 10 Jun 2016 @ 3:25pm

      Re: The Prenda Principal

      It sounds like a variation of The Peter Principal. Instead of rising to your level of incompetence, it's litigating above your level of competence.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Nigel Hawthorne, 10 Jun 2016 @ 5:49pm

      Re: The Prenda Principal

      Pehaps one may proffer a movie title, "Prendron - The Smartest guys in the Courtroom"

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mr. Oizo, 10 Jun 2016 @ 2:19pm

    Lovely storyline

    I always look forward to Prenda stories. But is somewhat of a dry spot lately. Hopefully their antics will go in overdrive again.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anon E. Mous (profile), 10 Jun 2016 @ 2:28pm

    John Steele and Paul Hansmeier ought to be the forefront of every law school's ethic's class on "when to know you have crossed the line"

    The lure of easy cash settlement and the addiction to them is one of the major factors of what brought Prenda law down. These guys were so greedy they even started to cut the studios who were there clients out of the picture and make their own films, their own film entities just so they wouldn't have to give a cut of the settlements to those previous studios and this way they could keep 100% of the settlements

    Even after all the hot water these two have been in they still pled stupid and kept using the "we didn't do nuffin" line when the evidence proved otherwise.

    Steele and Hansmeier still haven't learned anything and are still addicted to the easy settlement cash that they are doing the ADA troll lawsuits, and ask Hansmeier how well that is going for him?

    Dont know, well allow me to fill you in Hansmeier has been so busy with his filings in Minnesota and pissing off small business so much that those small businesses have gone to the media and the city and state legislators to cry fowl over these drive by ADA lawsuits that the state legislator passed some law that would severally restrict how an ADA claim in a lawsuit is played out, now Hans cant just ask for cash to go away.

    Hansmeier must now give the defendant time to make good on the decencies that are alleged in the lawsuit. So that angle is sewering for his litigation.

    Stelle is also in the ADA lawsuit game in Illnois, and guess who is rumored to be working with him...Mark Lutz Yes that same Mark Lutz who is the CEO mastermind businessman behind AF Holdings etc etc etc.

    I guess Lutz got tired of all that hectic corporate business and decided to settle for being one of Steele's underlings shaking -er negotiating settlements, or whatever else he does for Steele.

    I hope the Feds slap these Guys with RICO and wire and Mail fraud, but time will tell. Lord knows they deserve everything they get

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 11 Jun 2016 @ 12:59am

      Re:

      John Steele and Paul Hansmeier ought to be the forefront of every law school's ethic's class on "when to know you have crossed the line"

      I wanted to compare this to "when to know you have crossed the line in politics" but kept getting interrupted by Mr Godwin.

      In other words: if that's where you draw the line, the ethics class is going to sail right over your head.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Jun 2016 @ 1:34pm

      Re:

      Prenda crossed the line so long ago, they can't even find the line using Apple Maps (Don't think they're smart enough to use google tbh).

      Steele probably can't even remember that there WAS a line to be crossed.

      Imagine his thoughts on passing the bar: "Hell Yeah, now to scam me some disabled veterans, war heroes, and Grandmas".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 10 Jun 2016 @ 2:42pm

    "Not for publication"

    This is just a memorandum regarding the bonds and venue. It doesn't address the criminal sanctions and Prenda's lawyer's request to have them retried for criminal contempt of court (I'm not kidding you: that was his strategy for defending Prenda).

    It does shut down a few of their court gaming plays, but the main show is still on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      wshuff (profile), 10 Jun 2016 @ 3:02pm

      Re: "Not for publication"

      I think this ends it. There is no remand. The Court makes the point several times that the sanctions were civil in nature, so the Prendarastis got all the due process they were entitled to get.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Dan (profile), 11 Jun 2016 @ 3:55am

      Re: "Not for publication"

      Lots of cases are unpublished (which isn't a good thing, but that's a separate discussion). This opinion disposes of their appeal on its merits, such as they were, upholding the sanctions (i.e., the money they were ordered to pay Doe and Pietz), upholding the requirement that they post a bond to secure those sanctions before appealing, and upholding the requirement that they post a further bond to secure the attorney's fees on appeal. Venue was not an issue. Those were the only sanctions imposed by Judge Wright, and all that was before the court.

      The referrals to the DOJ, IRS, state bar disciplinary committee, etc. weren't sanctions and aren't appealable (those are all in the form of "hey, you guys should take a look at..." rather than actually imposing a fine or other restriction on them).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DB (profile), 10 Jun 2016 @ 2:43pm

    Steele and Hansmeier are both still practicing law. They are currently involved in ADA shake-downs, where they send 'settlement' letters over trivial (sometimes false) violations.

    Like their previous scam, the victims find it cheaper to pay the settlement than to fight in court.

    The system is deeply corrupt when, years after engaging in clearly illegal activities to perpetuate their shakedowns, they are still practicing law.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 10 Jun 2016 @ 2:50pm

    Even if they are disbarred they can keep up the ADA scheme.

    See there is this glut of young stupid lawyers who have massive debt to pay off. One just forms a "nonprofit" to be the beneficiary of the settlements. You burn through young lawyers filing paperwork, and work on getting settlements while extending case deadlines. Its ADA Trolling.

    Until they are in jail, they will continue.

    Following the pattern I am willing to bet there are other proto ADA Trolls out there carving out their niche. They will tell themselves they are smarter than the Pretenda Pals and won't get caught the same way. We know how this story ends... its just the story is being told by old man justice who keeps taking long naps inbetween sentences.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2016 @ 3:39pm

    At some point it's no longer just about going after that quick buck from a settlement. By now it's probably the only gig they can come up with, because nobody else will hire them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    afn29129 (profile), 10 Jun 2016 @ 3:57pm

    The ruling on the field stands

    The ruling on the field stands. Team Pranda has been charged with their final timeout. There's 30 seconds remaining in the game and Pranda trails by a shitload of point. There goes the final whistle. Game over man, game over! And now for the post-game report from the teams new locker room. It has doors that go klink. A bit of advice guys.. don't drop the soap.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      afn29129 (profile), 10 Jun 2016 @ 3:59pm

      Re: The ruling on the field stands

      Hell. I'm out of popcorn.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 11 Jun 2016 @ 5:45am

      Re: The ruling on the field stands

      It's not over until the deadline to file for review by SCOTUS closes and they file 4 days after the dead line to keep up their track record.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Jun 2016 @ 1:36pm

      Re: The ruling on the field stands

      But in the post-match interview, Steele will insist he won 100-0, then try to shakedown the guy selling hotdogs for porn infringement....

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2016 @ 6:30pm

    Where are you, horse with no name? Didn't you say that Prenda would win their appeal?

    Oh, that's right. You shed that troll pseudonym and picked up a few more, because you couldn't stand the idea of getting called out for it.

    horse with no name/My Name Here/Just Sayin' Whatever just hates it when due process is enforced.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2016 @ 7:10pm

      Re:

      Indeed, where now are the the copyright cronys? They seem to have become rather scarce around here since Prenda truely showed who was the best and brightest amongst them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Jun 2016 @ 1:37pm

      Re:

      I suspect horse with no name got thrown into the burger mincer with no name......

      Do you admit you were wrong? NEIGH!!!!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2016 @ 7:46pm

    Ok now that that's done the FBI needs to hurry their asses up and get these trolls convicted and thrown in jail.

    As amusing as it is to read about these idiots getting in trouble and thinking they're untouchable and can talk their way out of anything they're still hurting people and small businesses every day while they're allowed to continue with their trolling.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jun 2016 @ 1:31pm

    At this juncture, I'm surprised they don't dig up Paul Duffy, attach strings and try to appeal ala 'weekend at Prenda'

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown for basic formatting. (HTML is not supported.)
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown for basic formatting. (HTML is not supported.)
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Techdirt Logo Gear
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.