Circuit Judge Andrew Gleeson has denied motions for sanctions brought by several "John Does" who claimed they were harassed by the plaintiff in a St. Clair County hacking lawsuit.
The case, which was dismissed in July, accused defendant Christopher Hubbard and his alleged co-conspirators of hacking into plaintiff LW Systems’ computer system – which hosts and delivers content to adult Web site operators.
Even though the case has been dismissed, several individuals identified as John Doe filed motions for sanctions against LW Systems claiming they were harassed and intimidated by the litigation.
The John Does were not actual defendants, but potential defendants whose identities were being sought from their Internet service providers (ISP) through subpoenas authorized in St. Clair County.
The subpoenas were made possible by an agreed order signed by Chief Judge John Baricevic soon after the case was filed, allowing LW Systems to gather customer identities from 325 ISPs.
LW Systems, represented by Paul Duffy and John Steele of Chicago and Kevin Hoerner of Belleville, filed a motion to dismiss the case shortly after Gleeson quashed the subpoenas which were issued improperly out of Cook County.
On Nov. 12, LW Systems filed a combined opposition to motions for sanctions filed by the John Does.
LW Systems argued that the only reason the subpoenas requiring the identifying information of the ISPs' subscribers were quashed was due to a clerical error.
“While the court granted that motion [to quash], it did so because the subpoena was inadvertently issued on a form for the Circuit Court of Cook County, rather than the Circuit Court for the Twentieth Judicial Circuit, St. Clair County, Illinois,” the motion states. “The error was a clerical one; it was very clear that the subpoenas were issued in connection with an agreed order entered in this case, and the ISPs were then properly served with corrected subpoenas.”
Further, the plaintiff wanted the motions seeking sanctions denied, alleging none of the movants were parties to the litigation and lacked standing to challenge the allegations. LW Systems also says its complaint was well grounded in law and existing fact, it stated a claim for relief, none of the movants were subject to the subpoena, the subpoenas did not have invalid statements as to law or fact and no movants suffered harm from the clerical error in the subpoenas.
On Nov. 13, Gleeson entered an order denying the John Does’ motions for sanctions. However, he had previously ordered sanctions against LW Systems on behalf of some ISPs.
In related developments, Charter Communications filed a motion for judgment on Nov. 7, stating that LW Systems was ordered to reimburse Charter its costs in the sum of $1,292.80 by Aug. 17, but has failed to provide any payments.
“Due to LW Systems and/or its counsel’s noncompliance, Charter wishes to convert the August 7, 2013 order into a judgment against LW Systems, and seeks such relief from this court,” the motion states.
Gleeson filed an order on Nov. 13 converting the Aug. 7 order awarding costs to an order "requiring Paul A. Duffy and John Steele, counsel of LW, to pay Charter’s costs."
Gleeson also granted Comcast Cable Holdings’ motion for judgment and entered formal judgment on Nov. 13 against LW Systems and in favor of Comcast in the sum of $17,625.
According to Comcast’s motion for judgment filed on Sept. 27, Gleeson ordered LW Systems to pay an award to Comcast on Aug. 7 after the lawsuit was dismissed for expenses the company incurred in responding to the plaintiff’s subpoenas. Comcast sought to convert the order to a judgment against LW Systems.
Andrew G. Toennies of Lashly & Baer PC in Belleville represents Comcast.
Charter Communications is represented by Robert J. Sprague of Sprague & Urban in Belleville; and Steven M. Sherman, Michael L. Nepple and Felicia R. Williams of Thompson Coburn LLP in St. Louis.
St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 13-L-15