Over the past two months, thousands of mass file-sharing lawsuits filed in the United States have been dismissed by judges due to jurisdiction issues. On Monday, hundreds more BitTorrent users were granted a reprieve for what may be that very same reason.
Judge Thomas Griesa is reported to have dismissed the cases brought against 266 alleged file-sharers by DigiProtect for sharing an adult film. DigiProtect is not the film’s production company, but rather a firm that licenses peer-to-peer distribution of content for the purpose of bringing lawsuits such as this one.
Attorney Robert Cashman, who represented one of the defendants in the case, spoke to TorrentFreak on Monday regarding the events that took place during the hearing.
“I do not know on what grounds it was dismissed, but from what I heard, the judge was upset about the jurisdiction issues and the improper joinder issues with the case,” Cashman said. The specific reason for the dismissal is not yet public knowledge because the official paperwork from the hearing had not yet been filed.
There is also a second mass file-sharing lawsuit brought by DigiProtect against 240 BitTorrent users which has been appointed to another judge. Cashman is currently advising defendants involved in those cases to not sign any settlement agreements yet.
“I’ve heard that the other case is also in jeopardy because of the improper joinder and improper jurisdiction issues, but my contact did not seem to think it was going to be dismissed outright like the original one,” Cashman stated.
Cashman has also, unfortunately, had to advise clients in Monday’s dismissed cases to not sign any settlement agreements, because DigiProtect was still in pursuit of them.
“As a side ethical issue, knowing the case was orally dismissed, DigiProtect’s attorney continued to solicit settlement agreements,” Cashman said. “It appears based on one of the settlement offers copied to me that he contacted my client directly in violation of the ethics rules.” Cashman stated that he had forwarded a redacted copy of the documents to Judge Griesa for review.
It’s good to see more of these predatory lawsuits being dismissed by the US court system. Unfortunately, there are several hundred more that were just filed this week. Eventually, however, it would be great to see US judges consider a ban on settlement letters, as a UK judge presiding over similar mass file-sharing suits has considered doing.