from the for-the-weekend dept
Well, might as well leave some folks for the weekend with some more bad news for Prenda as covered by Joe Mullin at Ars Technica. Yesterday there was another hearing in the case in Northern California, in the case where Judge Edward Chen appears to be a few steps behind Judge Otis Wright in understanding what Prenda is up to, but is catching up fast. This is the Navasca case, and Paul Duffy is so busy dealing with the collapse (and potential further problems) with Prenda that he apparently forgot the hearing was on at all. When the court reached him by phone, he was apparently confused, saying he thought the hearing had been cancelled. But the key point was that the Judge clearly is realizing that Prenda/Duffy are making claims that don’t make much sense.
“Frankly I don’t see why fees should not be awarded here, given the findings obtained in this court as well as other courts, including Judge Wright’s,” he said. “This case proceeded without proof of standing. There were also questions about identifying Mr. Navasca as an infringer without sufficient investigation. Other assertions, like improper spoliation, were never proven or supported. Then there’s the whole question of motivation. There’s a serious question raised about the whole business model here… [about whether] this is a business model to generate income through coerced settlements. If there’s a case that warrants fee shifting, this certainly seems to be one of them.”
Duffy tried to talk his way out of all of this, insisting (yet again) that Navasca “engaged in spoliation of evidence” — a claim that’s been tried by Team Prenda multiple times and failed — in large part because it’s silly. Navasca had a registry cleaner, CCleaner, installed on his computer, since well before the whole Prenda thing, and the app serves to keep a computer running efficiently and keep it from getting bogged down. Beyond having the app, there’s no evidence that it was used to delete any form of evidence. The court has already rejected it, but Duffy couldn’t let it go. But that’s a pretty weak thread to hang from.
When asked about a variety of other things, Duffy did the usual “deny, deny, deny” move. In particular, Chen pointed out the whole lack of standing given the likelihood of Alan Cooper’s signature being forged:
“Here AF [Holdings] didn’t even prove standing,” said Chen. The judge was referring to the disputed copyright assignment at the root of the case. It was signed by Alan Cooper, a former property caretaker for John Steele, the man pointed to as a key Prenda player. Cooper later denied having signed the papers.
“That’s very much in dispute,” said Duffy. “It’s a ‘he said, he said’ about the individual who signed AF Holdings’ [assignment]. The individual did not challenge the signature until Mr. Steele ejected him from his property, then all of a sudden repudiated his signature. There is a factual issue about whether the person who signed it actually signed it. We believe he did.”
“I’ve not seen a case yet where AF Holdings has been able to prove to any court’s satisfaction that this was not a case of either identity theft or forgery or something of that nature,” said Chen. “I know you dispute this on behalf of your client. Is there a case where you have prevailed on this issue?”
“There’s not a case where we have not prevailed,” insisted Duffy,
When in doubt, go for the double negatives, I guess… Anyway, there’s a lot more at that link. Duffy also tried to attack the credibility of Delvan Neville, the computer expert who presented incredibly compelling testimony that John Steele or someone closely associated with him was uploading the files Prenda was suing over themselves. As the judge pointed out, however, Duffy failed to actually file anything in any case that factually disputes Neville’s statements. All he did was whine about Neville as a person and his credentials. The judge appears to find the lack of any such factual filings noteworthy.
“You take on his declaration… you argue about it. You say his opinions are worthless, et cetera, et cetera, purely conjectural, they don’t make logical or economic sense. [But] I don’t see any factual matter submitted. You had a full two weeks to respond.
We eagerly await Judge Chen’s ruling.
Of course, there was also another Prenda hearing today down in Arizona, where Judge G. Murray Snow has also been expressing quite a bit of skepticism. There, Prenda red shirt Steve Goodhue filed “answers” to some of the questions Snow asked, which we’ve embedded below, but as of this writing no other details of the hearing have come about. I’m sure we’ll find something out in the next week or so…
Meanwhile, back in St. Clair County, Illinois, where Prenda had focused a bunch of their state court actions, Charter Communications is now asking the judge to award it $5,000 from Team Prenda to pay for the costs of having to deal with Prenda’s invalid subpoenas in one of the LW Systems (another shell) cases.
Charter attorney Robert Sprague of Belleville wrote in a motion July 11 that the company has asked for reimbursement from plaintiff attorney Paul Duffy of Chicago after Gleeson ruled June 6 that the subpoena was invalid, but that its requests have been ignored.
Sprague’s motion also claims that Duffy has not provided notice that customer information Charter inadvertently provided due to the invalid Jan. 31 subpoena has been destroyed.
“Charter customer information, including name and address information, is ordinarily confidential and subject to the protection under the Cable Act,” the motion states. “Customer information cannot be produced absent a valid court order requiring Charter to provide it.
It may be slow, but it seems like the world may finally start to be closing in on Prenda…