CHICAGO — Former Prenda Law Attorney Paul Duffy, 55, died Monday from heart and alcohol-related conditions, according to a report.
Duffy was a partner in the now-dissolved Prenda Law, which was notorious for exacting payments from porn piracy defendants through court-approved subpoenas.
Duffy had partnered with attorneys John Steele and Paul Hansmeier at Prenda Law, which closed shop in 2013 after U.S. District Judge Otis Wright in Los Angeles sanctioned the three for deceiving the court in a copyright infringement case.
Prenda Law attorneys allegedly created shell companies in order to file copyright infringement and computer hacking suits to exploit court subpoena powers and extort settlements, typically about $3,400 per defendant, according to court records.
Currently, the former Prenda Law partners are awaiting a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling after they asked the court to toss sanctions from Wright, who said in a May 2013 opinion that Prenda Law “outmaneuvered the legal system" in their porn piracy cases representing adult companies AF Holdings LLC and Ingenuity 13 LLC — purportedly started up by the law firm.
According to Prenda Law’s appellate counsel, the attorneys should prevail in the appeal and the sanctions should be thrown out entirely because the firm wasn’t given the opportunity to defend themselves after its attorneys invoked the 5th Amendment in front of Wright. Prenda Law’s counsel said that Wright imposed criminal contempt penalties without extending criminal contempt procedural protections.
Just recently, Duffy along with Steele also were sanctioned in the case Lightspeed Media Corp. vs. Anthony Smith for engaging in “unreasonable, willful obstruction of discovery in bad faith."
Prenda Law, in recent months, was reportedly the subject of a federal probe, as well.
According to the Madison Record, the specific causes of Duffy’s death were atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and chronic ethanolism. He died at a Chicago-area hospital.