27 Porn BitTorrent Cases Put on Hold, Could Be Dismissed
MIAMI — A federal judge has put on hold 27 porn BitTorrent piracy lawsuits targeting 3,394 John Doe defendants pending the determination of plaintiffs' counsel's authority to practice law in Florida.
Plaintiffs' attorney Terik Hashmi, an associate at the International Law Group Inc. in Miami, has been accused of taking on all of the cases in the state but not having a Florida State Bar license to practice.
The decision made yesterday by U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle could lead to dismissals for each of the 27 cases involving some of the top studios in the adult entertainment business, including Elegant Angel, Wicked Pictures, Digital Sin, Devil's Film, Zero Tolerance and others.
Hinkle's order stays the proceedings and instructs counsel for the plaintiffs to cease all efforts to settle with the Doe defendants or collect on settlements related to these suits.
"Mr. Hashmi must show cause by March 9 why these cases should not be dismissed on the ground that he has no authority to practice law in Florida or in this court," Hinkle said in the order.
Hinkle said in his order that he was alerted to a notice filed by three defendants in one of the cases, alleging Hashmi resides but is not licensed to practice law in Florida.
Opposing counsel in the notice not only said that Hashmi isn't licensed to practice law in Florida, but that he is in violation of a Cease-and-Desist Affidavit from 2010 where agreed to not engage in an "unlicensed" capacity as legal counsel in the state.
The opposing counsel, Miami attorney Danny Simon, who represents at least three Doe defendants, said that Hashmi is violating "multiple provisions of the affidavit."
Hinkle's order consolidates all of the 27 cases into one for case-management purposes only.
The order, however, doesn't prevent Hashmi from attempting to arrange representation of a plaintiff by another attorney, so long as he doesn't accept a fee for doing so.
The following porn BitTorrent suits are subject to Hinkle's order: Third Degree Films Inc. vs. Does 1-259, Third Degree Films Inc. vs. Does 1-375, Digital Sin Inc. vs. Does 1-208, Digital Sin Inc. vs. Does 1-145, Digital Sin Inc. vs. Does 1-167, Next Phase Distribution Inc. vs. Does 1-126, Patrick Collins Inc. vs. Does 1-85, Zero Tolerance Entertainment Inc. vs. Does 1-52, Media Products Inc. vs. Does 1-34, SBO Pictures Inc. vs. Does 1-92, SBO Pictures Inc. vs. Does 1-97, Metro Interactive, LLC vs. Does 1-56, Evasive Angles Entertainment vs. Does 1-97, Elegant Angel Inc. vs. Does 1-87, Elegant Angel Inc. vs. Does 1-115, Elegant Angel Inc. vs. Does 1-85, Elegant Angel Inc. vs. Does 1-77, Media Products Inc. vs. Does 1-175, Digital Sin Inc. vs. Does 1-150, Digital Sin Inc. vs. Does 1-131, Exquisite Multimedia Inc. vs. Does 1-178, Media Products Inc. vs. Does 1-43, Next Phase Distribution Inc. vs. Does 1-93, Patrick Collins Inc. vs. Does 1-159, Third Degree Films Inc. vs. Does 1-195, Media Products Inc. vs. Does 1-168 and SBO Pictures Inc. vs. Does 1-98.
Hashmi, who could face sanctions, did not return XBIZ queries over the judge's order on Friday.