I cannot believe I am saying this, but the West Coast Productions v. Does 1-5,829 (1:11-cv-00057-CKK) case filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia is still ALIVE.
In short, Judge Kollar-Kotelly has made no secret of the fact that she is beginning to tire of this case. In her most recent order yesterday, she wrote, “the Court shall not permit this case to languish on its docket indefinitely.” (p.3).
In addition, she has made no secret that she has every intention to enforce FRCP Rule 4(m) in order to dismiss this case if the plaintiffs do not name or dismiss defendants within her new deadlines. Following her scant 3-page ruling are eighteen (18) pages of IP addresses in large print belonging to John Doe Defendants who are now dismissed. Surprisingly, none of them belong to our clients.
What we can pull from this order are a whole new set of deadlines that the plaintiff attorneys must adhere to (or maybe we might see yet another extension in a few months).
In short, here is what “must” happen according to her current order:
By July 15th, plaintiffs must file a report with the court indicating who has been dismissed, who they are waiting to hear from, etc. This is nothing so exciting; no doubt the plaintiff attorneys will comply.
By July 29th, plaintiffs must name and serve defendants — and they must file proof with the court that they have complied by August 3rd. My guess is that nobody will be named and served, but a few defendants will be dismissed, and we will see yet another extension request early August.
NEW DEADLINE: BY AUGUST 15TH, 2011, PLAINTIFFS MUST NAME AND SERVE ALL OTHER DEFENDANTS OR ELSE THE CASE WILL BE DISMISSED [AGAIN].
In short, I am disappointed by this wimpy excuse for a ruling. If the judge had some spine she would have stuck to her hard deadline of “name or dismiss by June 30th, or else.” Giving in again and again as far as I am concerned is like telling a child “no, you cannot have that lolly pop,” and then giving it to them. What makes the plaintiff attorneys at Dunlap Grubb & Weaver, PLLC think that if they do not adhere to this deadline that the judge will not extend it yet again?
Maybe this is her plan. Pretend to be against the plaintiff attorneys, but continue to give them as much leeway as they need to collect the thousands-of-dollar extortion payments from each of the thousands of Doe Defendants while she screams about deadlines and court dockets, threatening that she is going to dismiss the case under FRCP Rule 4(m).
Okay, so now what. John Doe defendants who have spoken to me, your case is still alive. This means that the plaintiff attorneys will be contacting you, they will continue to be demanding settlement amounts from you, etc. etc. Their game is now well known.
Obviously it is a basic ethical rule that as soon as I give them notice that I am your attorney, all their calls and “solicitations” must stop. In addition, any correspondences must go through me. This allows me to act as a barrier between you and the plaintiff attorney so that you won’t say anything incriminating, and it allows me to interact with your opponents on your behalf. There are obviously other things I do as your attorney, but bottom line, your judge has given them carte blanche to do whatever they want until this new deadline.
In short, no dismissal.