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.