St. Clair County Circuit Judge Andrew Gleeson granted a joint third party motion to quash subpoenas of Internet service providers at a hearing Thursday morning in LW Systems v. Christopher Hubbard.
Gleeson said he would allow the plaintiff 14 days to amend a complaint which alleges Hubbard and alleged co-conspirators, identified at this stage of the litigation as John Does, hacked into its computer system that supplies content for adult Web site operators.
Plaintiff’s attorney Kevin Hoerner of Belleville urged Gleeson to hold the subpoenas in abeyance rather than granting the ISPs’ motion to quash, saying the providers, as third parties, did not have standing to “drive the litigation.”
He said that if his client was not allowed to advance discovery by ascertaining customer information, the alleged wrong doers would have time to “cover their tracks.”
“Any additional delays is all to the benefit of the ISPs and clearly to the Does,” Hoerner said.
Attorneys for ISPs and John Does argued, among other things, that the complaint has not been properly pled and should be viewed by the judge with a higher level of scrutiny.
An attorney for Charter Communications said the purpose of the lawsuit is to extract settlement through a threat of public humiliation. He said John Doe targets receive letters from the plaintiff attorneys stating they would contact friends and neighbors to discuss their downloading of material from the Internet.
Gleeson said he had questions about the complaint and ownership of plaintiff – LW Systems.
“I think I need to be careful…,” Gleeson said. “This is major litigation that will take years to go through.”
Shortly after the case was filed, Chief Judge John Baricevic signed an agreed discovery order that let LW Systems subpoena personal information associated with certain IP addresses from 325 ISPs.
The LW Systems case is one of several similar suits filed across the nation in which Paul Duffy and other attorneys at Prenda Law in Chicago represent the plaintiffs.
Adam Urbanczyk of Chicago represents Hubbard. He was present at the hearing and identified himself, but did not make any remarks.
Hoerner acts as local counsel.
In recent action, more than two dozen John Does had asked Gleeson to force appearance of defendant Hubbard.
Gleeson declined to take up the motion at Thursday’s hearing.
He also said he would not take notice of a declaration filed in a Florida suit, as well as an order for sanctions in a California case.
“I am aware of the content,” Gleeson said. “I don’t think it is appropriate to take judicial notice.”
The declaration that the John Does wanted Gleeson to take notice of comes from Delvan Nelville in the Florida case of First Time Videos LLC v. Paul Oppold.
In addition to Nelville’s declaration, the John Does asked Gleeson to take notice of a sanctions order in a California case.
U.S. District Court Judge Otis Wright II in May ordered Duffy and other lawyers to pay $81,000, finding that they engaged in “brazen misconduct and relentless fraud” in a copyright infringement case in California.