By Nate Anderson
Multiple federal judges in Chicago have absolutely ripped the tactics of the state’s only attorney filing mass P2P file-sharing lawsuits in recent weeks. Now, two new rulings directly contradict a ruling from Judge Beryl Howell, an RIAA lobbyist-turned-federal-judge in Washington, DC, who said that mass subpoenas against alleged file-swappers were proper.
Last week, Judge Blanche Manning of the Northern District of Illinois “severed” two of the P2P suits filed by local attorney John Steele, cutting them down from 1,800 combined defendants to just two. The judge, acting sua sponte (of her own accord, without ruling on a motion), told Steele that he must file a separate lawsuit against every anonymous target of his litigation, not try to combine hundreds of people into a single case.
Manning said that the defendants were “improperly joined” because the defendants weren’t engaged in the same “transaction” or “occurrence.” She also noted that each one would have a different factual defense, and that Manning could “be faced with dozens if not hundreds of factually unique motions to dismiss, quash, or sever from potential defendants located all over the country with no discernible ties to this district.”