Judge Denies Motion to Sanction Performers in OnlyFans Conspiracy Case

Judge Denies Motion to Sanction Performers in OnlyFans Conspiracy Case

SAN FRANCISCO — A California federal judge on Thursday denied a request by OnlyFans parent company Fenix International Ltd. to sanction performers Alana Evans, Kelly Pierce and Ruby for spreading “frivolous allegations” as part of a civil lawsuit alleging that OnlyFans conspired to blacklist its competitors and their brand ambassadors.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup also criticized Quinn Emanuel, the high-profile law firm representing Fenix, after counsel for the performers informed the court that a QE partner from a different city “was a source behind their allegations that OnlyFans’ parent Fenix conspired with Meta,” legal news site Law 360 reported.

Evans spoke to XBIZ on Friday and said, “I am thankful and relieved that the judge denied the sanctions. This has been a long and grueling process for us as performers and victims. We are looking forward to the discovery process moving forward. Performers are still being removed every day as a result of the issues we face.”

As XBIZ reported, Adult Performance Artists Guild (APAG) board officers Evans, Pierce and Ruby originally filed the civil lawsuit in February 2022 against OnlyFans and its owner, as well as Instagram and Facebook’s parent company, Meta. The suit replicates claims from an earlier lawsuit filed on behalf of FanCentro in November 2021, alleging a conspiracy to engage in “tortious interference with contract and intentional interference with prospective business.”

Attorney David Azar of Beverly Hills firm Milberg Coleman Bryson Grossman, who is representing the group as the first three of a class involving all adult performers and content creators, is also one of the lawyers representing FanCentro in its related action against OnlyFans.

Plaintiffs: Allegations 'Presented in Good Faith'

On July 31, Alsup dismissed claims against OnlyFans parent companies Fenix International Ltd. and Fenix Internet LLC, and against owner Radvinsky, following the plaintiffs’ disavowal of allegations that specific wire transfers had been used to bribe senior Meta executives.

In June, OnlyFans and Meta filed motions seeking dismissal of the conspiracy lawsuit, alleging that the discovery process revealed no evidence of a conspiracy.

Fenix International Ltd. had also asked Alsup to sanction the performers for spreading “frivolous allegations,” a motion that was the main subject of Thursday’s hearing.

Fenix’s motion for sanctions alleged that the plaintiffs’ counsel insisted during a hearing that they could present as evidence alleged transactions involving the bank HSBC, and later referred to illicit payments or transfers.

The plaintiffs filed a response to Fenix’s sanctions motion, alleging that their allegations “were presented in good faith” based on an investigation that included information they obtained from a “referring counsel” whom they did not identify at the time, Law 360 reported.

A High-Profile Firm Allegedly 'Involved on Both Sides'

On Wednesday, however, Azar filed a declaration with the court identifying the “referring counsel” as Los Angeles-based Quinn Emanuel partner Kenneth Chiate.

According to the document, Chiate arranged for Azar “to obtain a 28-page legal memo that had been ‘refined over time by Quinn Emanuel,’” Law 360 reported.

Azar also stated that Chiate “told him he’d looked at the wire transfer documents and they appeared authentic.”

The document also noted that Quinn Emanuel — through its “referring” Los Angeles office — “could be entitled to fees if the plaintiffs won their case for its assistance,” Law 360 explained.

Azar told the court that, prior to becoming involved, he had periodically spoken with Chiate about topics such as “possible claims to pursue, defendants to name, options for jurisdiction” and “further clarification/elaboration about his analysis.” 

At the hearing Thursday, Azar confirmed his statements.

Alsup noted that this would put Quinn Emanuel “on both sides of the case,” adding that “the Miami office wants sanctions for what the L.A. office did,” Law 360 reported.

“That troubles me greatly that your firm is involved on both sides of this case,” the judge told Miami-based Quinn Emanuel partner John O’Sullivan. “Passing the case off to somebody else to sue your own client.”

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