A status conference will be held Oct. 29 in St. Clair County Circuit Judge Andrew Gleeson's court involving a controversial porn site hacking lawsuit, Guava v. Comcast.
At issue in the 2012 lawsuit is Comcast's motion to compel payment of $26,280 for producing the identities of nearly 300 of its subscribers to Guava LLC, a distributor of pornographic films. Comcast also wants Gleeson to order Guava to pay reasonable attorneys’ fees in having to bring the motion to compel payment of expenses.
Comcast had been ordered by Gleeson in December 2012 to provide the names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and media access control addresses of certain customers who were alleged to have accessed porn sites unlawfully.
“John Doe” subscribers who objected to having their identities turned over had appealed, and in May the Fifth District Appellate Court ordered Gleeson to dismiss Guava’s pre-suit discovery petition.
The Fifth District also remanded the matter for an evidentiary hearing on a petition for rule to show cause as to why Guava, its attorneys and others should not be held in contempt and sanctioned.
According to the docket, that hearing has not yet been set.
The former Chicago firm Prenda Law sued on behalf of Guava. Belleville attorney Kevin Hoerner has acted as local counsel.
Three attorneys believed to be behind Prenda Law — Paul Duffy, John Steele and Paul Hansmeier — have been accused by a few judges of “brazen misconduct” and creating shell companies in order to file copyright infringement and computer hacking suits to exploit the court’s subpoena powers and extort settlements.
Another issue to be decided in the case is Hoerner's motion to withdraw, which was filed July 28.
In its May ruling, the Fifth District ordered Gleeson to compel the attendance of those named in the petition to show cause. The petition named Prenda-clients Guava LLC and Lightspeed Media Corp., as well as their officers and directors; Duffy; Hoerner; Steve Jones, a supposed agent of Lightspeed; and Allan Mooney, an alleged principal of Guava whose signature is listed on the pre-suit discovery petition, although there are claims it was falsified and forged.
The Fifth District also ordered Gleeson to address at least 10 issues including:
- whether Guava and its attorneys knew it was false when they said at least one of the alleged hackers lived in St. Clair County;
- whether Mooney’s verification was forged and falsified;
- whether Guava was an actual company with standing to bring the original petition, and if not, whether the attorneys knew that;
- whether Guava intended to go forward with litigation or just wanted to extort the John Does into settling;
- whether Guava’s attorneys had personal interests in Guava and if they intentionally hid such interests from the court;
- whether Guava engaged in sanctionable conduct; and
- whether the relative culpability of Guava’s attorneys, both lead and local, in relation to potential findings of misconduct.
Andrew Toennies of St. Louis represents Comcast.
St. Clair County case number 12-MR-417