by Paul Alan Levy
I have blogged in the past about the depredations of Evan Stone, a Texas lawyer who has made a business out of suing alleged downloaders of adult movies and shaking them down for settlements because, as he told the Texas Lawyer, “You have people that might be OK purchasing music off iTunes but they’re not OK letting their wife know that they are purchasing pornography.” (Link goes to a paywall). Stone bragged that he gets money from almost half of the people he sues, and that he has no intention of actually litigating the cases. A pretty good business model, that.
After he was caught sending out subpoenas while he was still asking the judge’s permission to start taking discovery, Stone was hit with a sanctions order that included a $10,000 fine and an injunction compelling him to let judges in his other cases know about the sanctions order. Given the amount of time I have spent defending lawyers in sanctions cases over the years, and my work to fix Rule 11 when its use got out of bounds in the 1980's, I take no joy in seeking them, but you have to read the ruling to get the full flavor of why sanctions were appropriate in this case.
Stone has appealed this order, as of course he has every right to do, but during his appeal he got caught again—he took no steps to comply with the injunction, and, after the deadline the judge set for compliance, he moved for a stay. But even though he had not obtained a stay, he still did not comply. Any seasoned litigator would understand that this is a no-no—asking for a stay is not tantamount to getting one.
The district judge was not amused. He denied the stay, found Stone in contempt, imposed a contempt fine, and ordered Stone to pay $22000 in attorney fees to the appointed lawyers for the Does. Stay tuned for further developments.