Heather Isringhausen Gvillo May 12, 2015, 7:46am


Parties who are potentially on the hook for illegally downloading porn filed a 20-page response to the lawyers pursuing the case, saying they should be sanctioned for their allegedly fraudulent conduct in a St. Clair County lawsuit.

“Guava, LLC filed this case in bad faith and never intended to follow through. It has a history of doing so...," states their April 20 response. "Other courts have sanctioned Guava and its attorneys for their conduct. During the course of this litigation, Guava and the Show Cause Parties have misled the Court and the Active Doe Parties."

"Active Doe Parties" refers to unnamed, but potential defendants in a 2012 lawsuit porn distributor Guava LLC filed against Comcast seeking names of customers who allegedly, illegally downloaded porn. The Doe parties filed a consolidated response to a memoranda Guava attorneys Paul Duffy and John Steele submitted seeking to champion the credibility.

“None of the arguments put forth by the Show Cause Parties have any merit,” the response states. “Their ruined professional reputations and their history of being sanctioned and referred for disciplinary and criminal investigations are a matter of record. It is right and just that the Active Doe Parties be compensated for the losses caused by the fraudulent, intentional and dishonest conduct of the Show Cause Parties.”

Duffy and Steele filed their memorandum on Feb. 18 after Circuit Judge Andrew Gleeson gave the attorneys and others 90 days from Nov. 18 to show why they shouldn’t have to pay cable provider Comcast $26,280 for producing the identities of nearly 300 of its subscribers in a case the lawyers brought for plaintiff Guava LLC, represented by the now-dissolved Chicago-based Prenda Law firm.

Based on Internet Protocol (IP) addresses it had obtained, Guava sued Comcast claiming “John Does” hacked their porn sites. In December 2012, Gleeson ordered Comcast to provide the names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and media access control addresses of its customers who were alleged to have accessed the sites unlawfully.

“John Doe” Comcast customers who objected to having their identities turned over to Guava appealed, and last May the Fifth District Appellate Court ordered Gleeson to dismiss Guava’s pre-suit discovery petition.

The Fifth District also ordered Gleeson to compel the attendance of those named in the petition to show cause.

The petition named Guava LLC and Lightspeed Media Corp., as well as their officers and directors; Duffy, Belleville attorney Kevin Hoerner who acted as local counsel, Steve Jones, a purported agent of Lightspeed; and Allan Mooney, a purported principal of Guava whose signature is listed on the pre-suit discovery petition.

Duffy, Steele and Paul Hansmeier were behind Prenda Law. They 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.

In their response, the Active Doe Parties argue that this case was filed after Associate Judge Sanjay Tailor of the Cook County Circuit Court accused Guava of participating in a scheme to issue subpoenas in a lawsuit against Skyler Case.

After Tailor issued an order staying all subpoenas issued by Guava, Guava began filing federal lawsuits against the John Doe subpoena targets in October 2012.

The suit against Case in Cook County was eventually dismissed by agreement of the parties.

“This case is nothing more than an attempt by Guava to do in St. Clair County what Judge Tailor specifically ordered would not occur in Cook County in Guava I. It seems clear that Guava hoped that if the objecting subpoena targets were out of the way, Judge Tailor would allow further subpoena activity,” the response states.

Additionally, the Active Doe Parties argue that Guava was sanctioned in Minnesota for similar misconduct in a lawsuit against Spencer Merkel in Hennepin County Circuit Court.

“Ultimately, the Hennepin County court held that Guava had conducted a fraudulent scheme to obtain the names and contact information for a large number of John Doe subpoena targets and ordered Guava to pay attorney’s fees and sanctions to a number of parties,” the response states.

In their answers, the Show Cause Parties were ordered by Gleeson to address 10 topics. Among the 10 questions Duffy and Steele addressed, as required by the Fifth District, the Active Doe Parties responded in part with the following:

- “Certainly, the actions of the Show Cause Parties during the pendency of this case shows that Guava is not only in fact the Show Cause Parties, and not a separate entity owned [and] run by an unrelated individual, but also not the actual party in interest.”

- “Guava, LLC has never registered and is not authorized to do business in Illinois.”

- “[Steele and Duffy] cannot simultaneously say they are not Guava, but that they know Guava’s intentions. Their statement that they succeeded in finding information sufficient to support their cause of action during this case is ridiculous.”

- “In an incredible show of hubris and foolishness, the Show Cause Parties took the identities of two clients represented by the undersigned, which were inadvertently disclosed in this matter due to a miscommunication between the undersigned and Comcast, and filed a federal copyright infringement case against him in the Northern District of Illinois on behalf of Pacific Century International, Ltd. … Duffy later voluntarily dismissed the copyright case against the two gentlemen sued by Pacific Century International. However, their names are now a matter of public record, the very thing they sought to avoid by objecting to the disclosure of their identities in this case, and a fact of which the Show Cause Parties were well aware.”

Andrew Toennies of St. Louis represents Comcast.

The John Doe real parties are represented by attorneys Laura Beasley, Erin Russell, Morgan Pietz and Thomas Leverso.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 12-MR-417

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