Court asked to step in after Righthaven refuses to comply with auction
19 December 2011
VEGAS INC archives
Copyright lawsuit filer Righthaven LLC of Las Vegas is refusing to turn its copyrights over to a court-appointed receiver so they can be auctioned — causing attorneys Monday to seek an order enforcing the auction plan.
Righthaven last week was ordered to surrender its intellectual property by Monday so it could be auctioned for the benefit of creditor Wayne Hoehn, who defeated Righthaven in one of its copyright infringement lawsuits.
Hoehn is owed $63,720 for work his attorneys performed fighting Righthaven, according to the U.S. District Court clerk who previously authorized U.S. Marshals to seize Righthaven assets to cover Hoehn’s claim.
The $63,720 is likely to grow every time Hoehn’s attorneys have to file a motion to seek payment from Righthaven, and they’ll no doubt be filing more briefs soon.
Despite filing brief after brief in federal court in Las Vegas and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, Hoehn and his legal team have repeatedly been frustrated in efforts to collect the $63,720.
When the Marshals Service found less than $1,000 in a Righthaven bank account, U.S. District Judge Philip Pro in Las Vegas last week authorized the latest collection attempt — an auction of its intellectual property including the very copyrights it sues over.
After Righthaven didn't comply by the close of business Monday, the deadline for compliance, Hoehn’s attorneys at Randazza Legal Group filed a new motion for a “writ of body attachment” asking that Righthaven CEO Steven Gibson and his wife, Raisha “Drizzle” Gibson, a Righthaven officer, be forced to appear in court by U.S. Marshals so they can execute the copyright transfers to the receiver at the threat of being held in contempt of court.
A Righthaven attorney last week said the company planned to appeal the receivership order. Righthaven maintains that once Pro found Righthaven lacked standing to sue Hoehn, Pro then lost jurisdiction to award Hoehn his attorney's fees or authorize efforts to collect those fees. Pro is among three federal judges who have found that once Righthaven loses on the merits of its copyright claims, it must reimburse the defendants for their fees.
The copyrights demanded by Hoehn's attorneys had not been transferred to the receiver by the close of business Monday.
"No new appeal has been filed with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, no new motion practice has been initiated there and Righthaven has not filed any petition for bankruptcy. Righthaven has made no explanation to the defendant — nor to the court — for its failure to comply with the Dec. 12 order," Monday’s filing by Hoehn's attorneys at Randazza Legal Group said.
One of Righthaven’s outside attorneys, Shawn Mangano in Las Vegas, said Monday he hadn’t seen the "motion for writ of body attachment" — and added he planned on Tuesday to file the receivership appeal motion with the 9th Circuit.
Righthaven since March 2010 has hit Hoehn and defendants in 274 more cases with no-warning lawsuits over their unauthorized uses of Denver Post and Las Vegas Review-Journal material.
But Righthaven’s litigation campaign has now ground to a near halt after judges found Righthaven lacked standing to sue under the copyrights it obtained from the newspapers — and because some of the defendants like Hoehn were also protected by fair use in their online activities.
Monday’s court filing by Hoehn's attorneys followed an incident Friday in another Righthaven case in the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver in which Mangano failed to appear during a telephone hearing arranged by the court to see if that case could be settled through mediation rather than be litigated.
Senior U.S. District Judge John L. Kane ruled Righthaven lacked standing to sue Wolf over his alleged use of a Denver Post photo, sending the issue to the 10th Circuit.
Two attorneys for Wolf, Andrew Contiguglia in Denver and Marc Randazza in Las Vegas, appeared for the telephone hearing and Randazza said he was surprised at Mangano’s absence.
"Even after everything I have experienced in the multiple cases I have against Mr. Mangano, I still gave him more credit than that. I presumed that his professionalism was still intact enough that he would at least show up at a court-ordered mediation," Randazza said. "Mr. Contiguglia and I bothered to show up, despite our suspicion that it would be a waste of time. I find it shocking that Mr. Mangano did not."
Mangano said a temporary restraining order hearing involving another client in state court came up, preventing him from participating in the 10th Circuit hearing.
"While Mr. Randazza may find the events 'shocking,' a series of unanticipated, urgent events concerning a non-Righthaven client prohibited me from participating in the telephonic mediation. Having engaged in these brief, often less-than-five-minute mediation sessions with Mr. Randazza in the past, he is once again making a mountain out of a molehill and needlessly attacking my professionalism," Mangano said. "As for Mr. Randazza's claim that he has given me more credit for my presumed professionalism in the past, the inflammatory motion for sanctions in the Newsblaze case (another Righthaven case) together with the quoted email content from Mr. Randazza that was included in Righthaven's response to the motion, demonstrates otherwise."
In the Newsblaze case, Righthaven submitted an email from Randazza.
"You aren’t this much of a (expletive). Stop letting Gibson make you look like one. He can’t be paying you enough to make it worth it," Randazza wrote in a Sept. 29 email to Mangano.
The Nevada federal judge in that case, Robert Jones, hasn't yet ruled on the motion that Mangano be sanctioned for prosecuting Righthaven cases that have no hope of success because of the company's lack of standing.
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