Charter seeks $5K in costs over invalid subpoena; Hearing set Sept. 3

By Ann Maher | Jul 18, 2013

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Andrew Gleeson will hear Charter Communication’s motion for costs and protective order on Sept. 3 involving the issuance of an invalid subpoena in LW Systems v. Hubbard.

As third party to a case that alleges hackers accessed the plaintiff’s supply of adult Web content, Charter says it has incurred more than $5,000 in response to a subpoena that was improperly issued in Cook County seeking information from 136 of its customers.

Charter attorney Robert Sprague of Belleville wrote in a motion July 11 that the company has asked for reimbursement from plaintiff attorney Paul Duffy of Chicago after Gleeson ruled June 6 that the subpoena was invalid, but that its requests have been ignored.

Sprague’s motion also claims that Duffy has not provided notice that customer information Charter inadvertently provided due to the invalid Jan. 31 subpoena has been destroyed.

“Charter customer information, including name and address information, is ordinarily confidential and subject to the protection under the Cable Act,” the motion states. “Customer information cannot be produced absent a valid court order requiring Charter to provide it.

“Here, no such order exists, as this Court has held that the Cook County subpoena is invalid. This court also quashed new subpoenas directed to Charter on June 27, 2013. Plaintiff therefore possesses information deemed confidential and beyond its reach by federal statute.”

Sprague wrote that Duffy has used customer information it improperly obtained to harass its customers by threat of lawsuit or threat of investigation.

At a hearing on June 27, Gleeson gave LW Systems 14 days to amend its complaint.

On July 11, Belleville attorney Kevin Hoerner, who has appeared as local counsel for LW Systems, filed a motion for an extension of time to file an amended complaint, saying plaintiff needed an additional seven days following receipt July 5 of the June 27 hearing transcript.


The case was filed in January and within two weeks, Chief Judge John Baricevic signed an agreed discovery order that let LW Systems subpoena personal information associated with certain IP addresses from 325 Internet service providers (ISPs).

While the only named defendant in the case at this time is Hubbard, the suit seeks identities of persons associated with Internet Protocol (IP) addresses who could become potential defendants. Subpoenas issued to ISPs seek names associated with IP addresses.

Defense attorneys representing “John Does” identified through their IP addresses have written in court briefs that the litigation is a “shakedown” designed to coerce settlement. They have said their clients have been threatened with lawsuits, or alternatively have been offered to settle for a few thousand dollars.

The LW Systems case is one of several similar suits filed across the nation in which Duffy and other attorneys at Prenda Law in Chicago represent the plaintiffs. 

Adam Urbanczyk of Chicago represents Hubbard. 

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