Back in December, we wrote about one of Prenda Law's latest tricks
(or, rather, a whole bag of tricks) involving using shell companies (who appear to be controlled by Prenda itself, where the CEO may have been faked
via identity fraud) to file cases against a single "named" defendant who settles quickly... but part of that "settlement" is that the "defendant" agrees to allow discovery
of a long list of "co-conspirators." Prenda argues that those co-conspirators cannot fight back against discovery, because they're not "defendants." And, thus, Prenda gets a big list of names/contact info of more people to shake down.
As we noted, there was some suspicion that the "named" defendants and their lawyers were somehow in on the deal -- and the judge in at least one case flat out asked Prenda's John Steele, and the defendant's lawyer Adam Urbanczyk, if they "were in bed together" to come up with such a settlement. At the time, we pointed out that it was still a big leap to assume that, but now there's a bit more evidence. In one of these cases, involving the likely-Prenda-shell-company Guava, one of the named defendants, Spencer Merkel, has filed an incredible affidavit
in which he admits that Prenda had offered him a "settlement" in which he would be "named" in a lawsuit and agree to cough up his BitTorrent log files. And Prenda provided him with the lawyer
who would then represent him thousands of miles from his home.
Michael offered me a settlement deal. The deal consisted of the following parts:
a. I would agree to be sued.
b. Prenda would ask for, and I would provide, a copy of the bit-torrent log from my
computer. The excuse for gathering this log is that it would corroborate the IP address
evidence that they had already gathered through the use of Prenda's sottware.
c. Prenda would, upon receipt of the information, dismiss the case against me.
4. In discussion of the settlement, Michael stated that he did not know of any pro
bono attorneys in Oregon, but could provide the name of an attorney who might take
my case in Minnesota. Because I cannot afford to pay an attorney, I agreed to be sued
in the state of Minnesota. I then retained my attorney, Trina Morrison, based on the
information provided to me by Prenda Law.
Now, throughout all of this, he believed that Prenda was representing Hard Drive Productions, one of the porn companies that Prenda used to represent, but whose cases they dropped entirely not too long ago to focus solely on these questionable shell companies they claim to be "representing."
5. Before the start of this case, I had not heard of Guava LLC. I believed that I
would be sued by Hard Drive Productions, Inc. I believe that Guava LLC's case against
me is based on my admission to Michael that I downloaded the video at issue in the Hard
Drive Productions case.
6. Before the case against me was filed, I had not heard of Alpha Law Firm. I
believed that opposing counsel was Prenda Law.
7. Afier subpoenas were served in the case against me, I learned of Guava LLC's
and Prenda Law's practice of finding one John Doc to be a named defendant, and then
discovering the names of and requesting settlement money from other John Does by
issuing subpoenas to ISPs.
Oh, and it gets worse. After all of this... Prenda went after him again
, which seems to be why he's now willing to speak out about the "deal."
8. Last week, on 01/15/13, I was once again contacted by Prenda Law Firm. I
received a voice mail from someone on behalf of Prenda Law stating that I needed to
make payment arrangements or I would be sued.
At the very least this raises very serious
questions about the conduct of Prenda Law and
some of the lawyers who represented these named defendants. Given that Prenda is already dealing with serious questions in multiple courts about possible fraudulent activity, finding out that they may have effectively blackmailed a defendant into taking a dive, for the purpose of "agreeing" to discovery to find another batch of people to go after, can't look good.