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Archive for the ‘Judge Bernard Zimmerman (CA)’ Category

Allow me to congratulation all the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC clients who have been dismissed from New Sensations, Inc. v. Does 1-1,745 (Case No. 3:10-cv-05863-WHA) filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

As we suspected and discussed on July 18th in our “Judge Alsup takes over “New Sensations, Inc.” case” article, this case is now dead. However, the case died on Ira Siegal’s own sword, so to speak, rather than by the hands of Judge Aslup.

To help you understand my understanding of the reasons behind the dismissal, your plaintiff attorney, Ira Siegel was scheduled to stand in front of Judge Alsup tomorrow, 10/6. In short, I was expecting that the recent events with Judge Zimmerman in the dismissal of the Tru Filth case (see here) would be eclipsed by a more zealous Judge Alsup, and I understood that Siegel was not in the mood for another embarrassing experience. In short, Judge Alsup is a prolific judge who has a reputation for having little patience for attorneys who do not have their cases in order. I understand that in light of the recent events, instead of facing Judge Alsup, Siegel decided to back away and dismiss all defendants. To those of you who were defendants in this case, please allow me to congratulate you on your victory!

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As we wrote just four days ago, Ira Siegel’s On the Cheap, LLC dba Tru Filth, LLC v. Does 1-5011 case (Case No. 3:10-cv-04472-BZ) in the US District Court for the Northern District of California has been ripped apart.  So, congratulations to the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC clients who have been severed and dismissed from the case!

Who is left in this case?  John Doe Defendants who live in the Northern District of California.  All others have been dismissed.  Now to everyone’s surprise, the judge wrote nothing about Siegel’s non-compliance with his demand to see how much his client has made on eliciting settlement payments from John Doe Defendants.  Instead, he focused on the bland arguments of jurisdiction and joinder, essentially telling Ira Siegel that he cannot sue out-of-state defendants in his court if they have not availed themselves to the jurisdiction of the California court.

One thing that I found interesting — and this might be quite boring to everyone else — Judge Zimmerman took the personal jurisdiction argument one step further than I have ever seen in any of these cases when he essentially said, “do not sue Californians WHO DO NOT LIVE IN MY DISTRICT in my district!”.  In his order, the judge told Siegel that he could have spent just a few more dollars to file THREE additional lawsuits in each of California’s federal courts — so that each of the Californian Does were sued in their home district rather than forcing them to defend a lawsuit potentially several hours away.  This delineates a new rule when suing John Doe defendants in a California court — namely that defendants need to be sued not only in a court which has personal jurisdiction over each of the defendants, but that  defendants need to be sued in the PROPER DISTRICT in which they live so that they will not be hauled into a court several hours away.  Here, the judge referred to “principals of fundamental fairness,” a concept each of us learned in law school.

Then the judge moved on to practical humor.  Simply put, how in the world would 5,000 defendants be able to show up for a hearing, (e.g., a FRCP 26(f) pretrial conference or a FRCP 16(b) case management conference) when the largest room in the courthouse only holds 200 people?!?

Last, but not least, the judge finally acknowledged (at the bottom of p.8) that when a $19.95 porn film is produced not for commercial gain, but for purposes of generating litigation and settlements, it no longer falls under the Constitutional protections of “useful arts,” but it amounts to merely a massive collection scheme.  This was never the intent of the copyright laws (…and thus…?).  I’ll leave it to you to finish the thought.

I have attached a copy of the dismissal letter below for your viewing pleasure. To those of you who have been dismissed who are not our clients, please allow me to congratulate you on your victory.

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There is a lot to say about Ira Siegel’s On the Cheap, LLC dba Tru Filth, LLC v. Does 1-5011 case (Case No. 3:10-cv-04472-BZ) in the US District Court for the Northern District of California.

Ira Siegel appears to have been involved in enforcing copyright laws against internet users for some time now — his picture can be found among the other plaintiff attorneys in the various bittorrent cases (here). If you look him up online, you’ll probably read about DMCA notices he has sent to various internet users over the years saying, “we see you have downloaded XYZ video. Pay us $900 or else we might sue you.” This is what he has been up to while other copyright attorneys [perhaps unbeknownst to him] (such as John Steele, Nicholas Kurtz of Dunalp Grubb & Weaver, etc.) started suing people asking for $2,900 [these days, they are asking for amounts around $3,400].

I suppose the problem for Ira is that he did come late to filing these bittorrent cases, and by the time he started suing people in the California courts, attorneys such as John Steele, Gill Sperlein and others have already come and gone, and judges were already aware of these cases, and the problems inherent in them. Thus, as a result, it only makes sense that he is getting the brunt of the judges’ hostile inquiries (precipitated by the previous severed and dismissed cases). In my opinion it is no surprise that Siegel is facing various dismissals of his cases coupled with orders to show cause, along with the usual inquiries as to how he could possibly sue various Does in one lawsuit when they have absolutely nothing to do with one another.

To make all of Siegel’s cases more difficult for him (e.g., Evasive Angles, New Sensations, Patrick Collins, etc.), we are thankful that the EFF has interfered in this case to instigate a dismissal. On 8/18, EFF filed an amicus brief asking the court to take judicial notice of (and thus, to adhere to) all of the cases that have been dismissed because plaintiffs sued John Doe Defendants in the wrong courts.

That being said, even before EFF got involved, Judge Bernard Zimmerman already sensed there was something terribly wrong with these bittorrent cases and on 6/24/2011, he issued an “Order to Show Cause” why this case should not be dismissed. Siegel responded, but apparently he was not convinced. Then, on 8/24/2011, Judge Zimmerman held a hearing on his order where Stewart Keller brilliantly live-tweeted (see his twitter feed which was re-posted here). As a result of the hearing, the judge asked Siegel some pretty specific questions and ordered him to answer questions regarding his tactics (including settlement data) which would have been a first in uncovering the activities taken by these bittorrent plaintiff attorneys.

In the meantime, Sophisticated Jane Doe (a former defendant in one of Gill Sperlein’s Io Group, Inc. cases) did a write-up on Ira Siegel which caught his attention (see here).  To everyone’s surprise, instead of submitting the required response on 8/30/2011 as the judge ordered, Siegel missed his deadline.

Today, 9/1/2011, I saw that he filed a response in which did not answer the judge’s pointed questions. Instead, he focused his response on attacking Sophisticated Jane Doe’s articles, and his response as a whole made no attempt to comply with the judge’s order and the content he was instructed to disclose. In addition, Siegel (perhaps correctly) applied the Federal Rules of Evidence (“F.R.E.”) § 408 to shield the court from learning how much he has collected thus far in settlements (remember, for a time, he was asking for $1,900; in his current settlement demand / “scare” letters, he is asking for $2,500). [As a mere side note, the one thing that Siegel might have missed is that even though he is correct that even though F.R.E. § 408 prohibits settlement negotiations from being admitted as evidence, most attorneys know that whenever evidence is prohibited from being admitted as evidence for one reason, that same information may be admitted into evidence for another reason.]

The question I keep asking myself is 1) was the late submission of a reply a purposeful attempt by Ira Siegel to give Judge Zimmerman a pretext to dismiss the case on grounds such as failing to properly respond? And, 2) would Siegel be willing to throw this case and risk it being dismissed in order to shield from the court how much money his client has made from settlements?

In sum, there is a lot that is going on in these cases, and some days it feels more like drama, deception, and posturing rather than discussing the case on its merits. Judge Zimmerman appears to be trying to remedy this.  While we will now wait and see if and how Judge Zimmerman responds to what he will no doubt see as blatant disregard to his order, I expect that Siegel’s latest move will result in a dismissal of his case. Perhaps it will even create some ripples in his other cases as well.

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