Team Prenda Loses Big Again: Told To Pay Over $650k For Bogus Defamation Lawsuit

from the another-shoe-drops dept

Welp, it looks like another bad day for Team Prenda. The law firm that went around uploading its own porn films and then shaking down people on the internet has had a bad few years in terms of courts blasting them for abusing the court system and ordering them to pay up for all sorts of awful things. Every few weeks it seems like we read about another loss for John Steele and Paul Hansmeier (the third "partner" in this mess, Paul Duffy, passed away). The latest is not only a pretty big hit, it's also a complete "own goal" by Team Prenda. This one wasn't in one of their crappy shakedown lawsuits where a defendant hit back. No, this was in the case where Prenda tried to sue all of its critics for defamation in both Illinois and Florida. The Florida case, filed by John Steele, was quickly dismissed once Steele realized it broke all kinds of rules. But the Illinois cases moved forward. There was some bouncing around between state and federal court, before the case was dismissed and some sanctions were added.

There's been some back and forth since then, but after the defendants, Alan Cooper and Paul Godfread, filed an anti-SLAPP against Prenda, and asked for sanctions, the court has now said that Prenda needs to pay up big time. You may recall that Cooper was a guy that Steele had take care of his vacation home in Minnesota, but whose signature Steele then forged on copyright transfer documents. Godfread was Cooper's lawyer, who brought all this out. The lawsuit against them (and a bunch of John Does) was a complete joke from the beginning. And despite Duffy insisting it had nothing whatsoever to do with Cooper saying that Prenda had forged his signature, that's what it was obviously about. Anyway, like so many Prenda things, this one backfired in a big, big way. To the tune of $674,206.94.

There are the original sanctions of $11,758.20 we mentioned above. Then there are attorneys' costs and fees for $162,448.74. And, finally, for good measure, Judge John Darrah tacked on $500,000 in punitive damages. Of course, whether or not Cooper and Goodfread will actually get paid is an open question. Duffy, as you may recall, is dead. And the other major members of Team Prenda, John Steele and Paul Hansmeier have been hit left and right with other judgments. Hansmeier declared bankruptcy and recently lost his law license. Steele's facing disciplinary action in Illinois, last we checked, and of course, lots of people are still waiting for the FBI. So, it's unclear how much they'll actually collect, but it's another case where Team Prenda's own hubris backfired amazingly. As Paul Hansmeier liked to say, "welcome to the big leagues."

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 2016 @ 11:52am

    "There are the original sanctions of $11,758.20 we mentioned above. Then there are attorneys' costs and fees for $16,448.74."

    Missed a digit, it's $162,448.74. for attorneys' costs and fees

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 2016 @ 12:05pm

    Must be getting close to the bottom of this popcorn bucket.

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

    • identicon
      Christenson, 21 Oct 2016 @ 12:11pm

      Special Slow-pop bucket

      Nope, we are about halfway through the bucket...but the kernels are really hard to pop!

      Arrest, trial, sentencing....

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 2016 @ 12:34pm

      Re:

      After years of gaming the US legal system, it finally seemed like the bottom had been reached in early 2013 when the Prenda scam was laid bare and everyone involved slammed down hard in the famous "Star Trek" court judgement.

      If there's one thing that can be learned from all this, it's that corrupt law-breaking attorneys who know how to play the legal system can continue to evade justice for many years -- even AFTER they've been caught red-handed.

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

      • icon
        DannyB (profile), 21 Oct 2016 @ 12:48pm

        Re: Re:

        SCO vs IBM.

        Yes, it's still technically active. For certain values of active. But it's in the appeals process. There should some good reading in IBM's response in early November.

        So yes, corrupt law breaking attorneys, and CEOs can evade justice for many years. Maybe even forever.

        God bless America!

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 2016 @ 8:53pm

        Re: Re:

        If there's one thing that can be learned from all this, it's that corrupt law-breaking attorneys who know how to play the legal system can continue to evade justice for many years -- even AFTER they've been caught red-handed.

        Some of them for the rest of their lives. (e.g. Paul Duffy)

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

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 21 Oct 2016 @ 3:00pm

      Re:

      Which is why they've moved to a new popcorn bucket doing ADA shakedowns.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 2016 @ 12:14pm

    And good luck ever collecting. or stopping them from continuing their games.

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 21 Oct 2016 @ 12:45pm

    Wow. This will be a case-study of how to fail. And boost popcorn consumption.

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

  • icon
    Anon E. Mous (profile), 21 Oct 2016 @ 2:47pm

    Most people know that suing your critics rarely achieves it's goal which is to silence them and that is exactly what Steele & Hansmeier attempted to do in this case as well as find out who the critics were.

    Steele & Hansmeier attempt here was to use big scary numbers in a lawsuit as a threat and as a means to find out who their critics were much like they did with their ISP subscribers IP addresses in comment blogs at DieTrollDie & FightCopyrightTrolls.

    As much as Steele loved to profess how the sites like DTD & FCT were a waste of time and were no skin off his back, this very lawsuit proved otherwise as even Steele himself posted on FCT to throw in some snarky remarks.

    FCT & DTD were very very effective at making life hell for Steele and Hansmeier and getting information out to the public on Prenda's trolling activities so ISP subscribers knew what they were dealing with if sued by Prenda.

    While Hansmeier and Steele were forced out of the porn trolling game, they are still trolling for cash with the Americans With Disabilities Act. That easy settlement cash is hard to walk away from and fairly addictive, so much so that even with Hansmeier's law license suspended, Hans wife is now the fact of ADA trolling lawsuits in Minnesota.

    Steele is in Illinois, how much trolling he is doing is unknown ( maybe he was waiting to see what happened with Hans law License and his bankruptcy first ). Steele though has not filed for Bankruptcy and the Illinois bar has filed it's complaint against Steele but it has not been adjudicated yet.

    What ought to be interesting is what Steele does to avoid all those costs he has been hit with for the various judgments and sanction orders against him?

    Hansmeier thought he could out fox everyone by filing for bankruptcy, and we all know how that worked out, nothing like shooting yourself in the foot. One would believe that Steele after seeing how things went for Hansmeier might not want to take that route.

    Hansmeier learned the hard way that his creditors from those Judgments weren't going away and I am sure Steele figured that out by now that some of those creditors will be looking for Steele to cough up as well and this Judgement is going to follow him around unless of course Steele decides to appeal, and we all know how well that worked out.

    It will be interesting to see how quick Godfread and Cooper pursue this Judgement against Steele and what John's reaction will be to this and how he deals with the rest of the creditors coming after him, those pesky creditors arent going to go away.

    I do wonder when the FBI and USDOJ and IRS are going to have their turn at Steele and Hansmeier, they have been in the backround digging away and taking notes of everything that has been going on with Hansmeier and his BK filing and the discovery answers he gave under oath which I am sure will come up in their investigation of where all that money went.

    Steele ought to be having some restless nights wondering if that knock on the door is the FBI coming to throw the wrist bracelets on him or the Domino's pizza driver

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

  • identicon
    Kronomex, 21 Oct 2016 @ 3:00pm

    As we say in our family, "All together now...1...2...3...Aaaawwww."

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 21 Oct 2016 @ 3:02pm

    I helped topple Prenda and all I got was this shitty defamation suit.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 2016 @ 8:52pm

    Why the hell haven't these guys gotten into politics, there is real money to be made there. I Guess they have their standards too.

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

  • identicon
    Anna Gram, 23 Oct 2016 @ 6:06am

    Ahgiednddean

    Steele and Hansmeier => Streisand Enema Heel

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2016 @ 6:35pm

    Pictures

    (the third "partner" in this mess, Paul Duffy, passed away)

    Pictures or it didn't happen!

    He probably saw the writing on the wall before the other 2, decided it was time to get out while there was still money in the kitty that hadn't been seized/frozen/drained from judgements against them. So he probably faked his death and fled the country with some of the money.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Oct 2016 @ 12:03am

    While it's been amusing seeing these guys get slapped around in all these cases can we just skip to the end here and throw these jack asses in jail for a couple decades and finally give them some real punishment, don't forget Hansmeier's wife and probably Steele's too.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2016 @ 11:06pm

    Steele got a Convenient Divorce from his ex-stripper wife. they had an "0pen" marriage so what's the big deal anyway.. Can't go after her! Ya she's rich as shit. And she was very very unkind to the FBI when they made a house call. Let me tell you how bad he pissed off the federal court judge in California, not a good idea! He is a terrible attorney in the court room so I have no idea how it got this far. Grand Jury hearing took place in federal court in mpls nov. 14th 2016. No word yet.... I'll lift up a gum wrapper and see what I can find.

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


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