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RIAA v. Santangelo Default Judgment Vacated 56

Posted by Zonk
from the fight-never-ends dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "It was reported last week that at the July 13th status conference in Elektra v. Santangelo II, the default judgment taken by the RIAA against Patti Santangelo's daughter, Michelle, was vacated by Judge Stephen C. Robinson. This has now been confirmed in papers filed by the RIAA's lawyers in which they indicated that the Judge vacated the default judgment because he prefers cases to be decided on their merits, rather than by default (pdf). The papers sought $513 in attorneys fees for (a) procuring the default judgment and (b) preparing judgment enforcement documents. Patti Santangelo is the first RIAA defendant known to have moved to dismiss the RIAA complaint. After two years of litigation, the RIAA dropped its case against Patti Santangelo, leaving open only the question of whether the RIAA will be ordered to pay her attorneys fees."
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RIAA v. Santangelo Default Judgment Vacated

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  • Gulp (Score:2, Funny)

    by UncleWilly (1128141) *

    The papers sought $513 in attorneys fees...
    The papers sought $513 in attorneys green fees

    There, I fixed it

    • by ukemike (956477)
      So if a hypothetical someone flamed out, "RTFA!" Which of the 8 linked articles would they be referring to? At a mere 5 minutes a piece, it would require 40 minutes just to get the background needed to comment. There was another post today about chasing a virus writer that had 4 linked articles. Maybe that's a bit much?
  • layer-ease (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AndyMan! (31066) <{chicagoandy} {at} {gmail.com}> on Thursday July 19, 2007 @03:13PM (#19918279)
    What does this actually mean?

    Seriously!What's a default judgment, why is it being vacated, and how does this impact the case against Santagelo?
    • by quibbs0 (803278)
      Ok I was going to ask too. What does this say in Laymens terms?
    • Re:layer-ease (Score:5, Informative)

      by Joren (312641) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @03:18PM (#19918379) Homepage
      Quoth Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

      Default judgment is a binding judgment in favor of the plaintiff when the defendant has not responded to a summons or has failed to appear before a court. In a civil trial involving damages, a default judgment will enter the amount of damages pled in the original complaint. If proof of damages is required, the court may schedule another hearing on that issue. A defendant can have a default judgment vacated, or set aside, by filing a motion, after the judgment is entered, by showing of a proper excuse.
    • by mooingyak (720677)
      IANAL, but...

      A default judgment [wikipedia.org] is kind of like a forfeit in sports. One side wins because the other side didn't show up.
    • RIAA tactics (Score:4, Interesting)

      by dna_(c)(tm)(r) (618003) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @05:22PM (#19919635)

      IANAL etc, etc. But as far as I remember, the RIAA tactics were:

      1. Screenshot of IP address
      2. Open case against John Doe
      3. Get summary judgement, declaring the plaintiff guilty - obviously in his/her absence, so by default
      4. Determine identity of the 'John Doe'
      5. Pressure into hefty payments

      The plaintiffs never had a chance to defend themselves. The judge apparently found these proceedings not entirely agreeable.

  • Her attorney's didn't enter a plea (or something to that effect), RIAA 'won' by default, and now the judge nullified that default behavior.
    • IORAL*, but if the RIAA lost the argument that the original suit is based on, can they really continue? Or are they just posturing?
      ________________________________


      *I Ordinarily Rent A Lawyer
  • by necro2607 (771790) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @03:21PM (#19918431)
    Well, let's see.... if they don't have to cover her attorney fees, then this sets a nice example for future RIAA frivolous lawsuits. They'll learn they can file a lawsuit against someone, draw out the legal process and rack up attorney fees on both sides (small pennies for RIAA, huge huge cost to your average middle-class citizen). Then they can drop the case, and they know they've already cost the person hundreds or thousands of dollars. Somehow I feel that this kind of behaviour should NOT be tolerated for the slightest moment. We all know that's what the RIAA is doing, too..
    • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @04:15PM (#19918951) Homepage
      not really if you are middle class then you can easily afford legal insurance. that $45.00 a month I pay covers a lot of things with good lawyers all over the country. Middle class can easily afford this, Hell I blow $45.00 on lunch at times. Middle class is $55,000.00 to $170,000.00 so you have a crapload of cash so even if you have to go to court you can easily afford to drop $4500.00 on a lawyer if you needed to, sure that means the disney trip is out this Christmas but not the end of the world.

      What it screws with is the poor. Poor cant afford $45.00 a month for legal insurance so they have to pay the big lawyers fees.

      That is what they target, they target the poor. i have yet to see one middle class or rich person targeted by the RIAA because they know that those people have the means to fight back.

      RIAA target the lower class, fake middle class, and the poor. Fake middle class are those that dont own anything but get credit up the wazoo to look like they are middle class, no they cant afford another $45.00 a month as they are already paying minimums to all their credit accounts... Yes there are lots of those out there sadly.
      • Amazing, I can't believe I've never looked into something like this. Could you recommend a good service or two? I looked around on the web a little, but I'm not sure I know how to evaluate who's a shyster and who's legit.

        • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @05:12PM (#19919541) Homepage
          http://www.araggroup.com/ [araggroup.com] is what I use. It's awesome and Has paid 100% for a divorce, a lawsuit against a business on the east cost that sent me a box of junk instead of what I paid for, as well as other smaller legal issues like getting me off of a traffic ticket that was going to be expensive.

          you have a premium you pay and a "copay" depending on the problem, you may have a max and then pay afterwards but most of the time it covers a bulk of the lawsuit. (after X $$$ they cover 80%)

          or type in google

          "legal insurance" to get a bigger list.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by sumdumass (711423)
            I had this for tickets once in the early 90s. Not that exact company but the lawyer that showed up for me plead me guilty and got the judge to waive court costs. The idea was to keep the points off my license, not skip court costs, I could have done that by just paying the ticket.

            So I guess my point is, Look around at see what others say about it too. Get some recommendations and endorsements if you can that aren't linked to from their site. I dunno if what happened to me was because of something I did or w
          • As an attorney (Score:3, Informative)

            by hawk (1151)
            I'm skeptical.

            When I was in general practice, I got pitched by these things all the time, and never found one that was worth *my* end of things. I'm not denying that one could be made, but every one I saw had unbelievably low rates for what I would be paid--to the point that it didn't cover my overhead costs!

            OTOH, the $45/month is higher than the premiums I used to see, so maybe it can cover a bit more.

            hawk, esq
      • by nagora (177841)
        that $45.00 a month I pay covers a lot of things with good lawyers all over the country.

        $45 EVERY MONTH!? Holy shit! What a waste of money. Maybe a better system would be to control the lawyers so that people don't have to live in fear of this sort of crap. Talk about a fucked up country.

        • by bcat24 (914105)
          'Tis the wonders of capitalism at work. It may seem unfair at times, but it's better than the alternatives.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by nagora (177841)
            It may seem unfair at times, but it's better than the alternatives.

            Err.. No, it isn't. At least, unrestrained capitalism (which is as based on fairytale notions as communism) is not better than the alternative forms of capitalism.

            TWW

        • by sumdumass (711423)
          $45 a month isn't that bad. when you consider that a lot of things you could do that need a lawyer to help you with might also have you not working or without an income at the same time.

          I pay my attorney $5000 a year for a retainer and haven't had to use him much at all. His $45 a month insurance lets you get lawyers specialized in both the area of law in question and the place where the suit or action is located. In the end, we are probably paying close to the same amount but he is more mobile then me.

          The
          • by jp10558 (748604)
            How do these things compare with some of the prepaid legal plans out there? Actually that looks just like the Legal Club of America version... pretty much the same.
            • by sumdumass (711423)
              Prepaid legal was what I had err what they called it. I know there are insurances available now that is more then prepaid.

              Mine was specifically for drivers license issues and you basically pre-paid a retainer in case you need a lawyer. What the op was describing seems more like insurance where you have a co-pay and it covers something like 80% or something. If I didn't already have an excellent lawyer and law firm behind me, I would look into the insurance thing a little more. If I could afford both, I prob
        • by orielbean (936271)
          It is an improvement over the olden days where someone who had more money or power than you, would simply treat you as they felt, and if you fought back, would have you slapped in irons, impressed in a navy, or various body parts removed. British Common Law was a big step forward for civilization. The lawyers aren't the problem here. They exist as a buffer between people with problems. Better a fight with lawyers than a fight with guns.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Dambiel (115695)
        I agree that $45/month is a steal to have what amounts to a lawyer on retainer, especially if you have considerable assets to protect.

        But, the middle class earning $55k to $170k? That seems high. Earning $170k puts you around the 95th percentile for household income, squarely in the upper class. $55k is about the 60th percentile, and I'm sure you don't mean to say that 60% of the U.S. is poor.

        Households in the middle quintile have incomes between $36,000 and $57,657. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Househ [wikipedia.org]
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          But this is for the whole US, and buying power varies greatly. $170K in Kansas and $170K in NYC are very, very different. Especially when you start considering that progressive taxes further reduce the $170K vs. $55K, and that higher cost of living areas (NYC, SoCal, Chicago, etc.) often have higher taxes to go along with the higher cost of living.

          The problem is that grouping the whole US ignores the cost of living in each area.

          For comparison: In Houston, teachers make about $42K to start in most of the d
      • by bit01 (644603)

        not really if you are middle class then you can easily afford legal insurance. that $45.00 a month I pay covers a lot of things with good lawyers all over the country.

        Your insurance company isn't a charity. Insurance pays for nothing, it simply averages out the costs and adds an overhead.

        In your case paying $45/month means that over an adult lifetime of say 50 years you've paid $27,000 in real terms. That's a lot of opportunity lost

        Yes, it may have reduced your worst case outcome but on average you'

        • by falsified (638041)
          You could apply that logic to any type of insurance. Yeah, on average, you're better off having no insurance.

          The reason we buy insurance is that so many of us have other-than-average things happen (example: Getting sued for tens of thousands of dollars for that 128 kpbs copy of "Fergielicious" you just had to have).
          • by bit01 (644603)

            You could apply that logic to any type of insurance. Yeah, on average, you're better off having no insurance.

            True. For smaller costs that can be absorbed by your own cash flow insurance is never a good idea unless you have good reason to believe the insurance company is underestimating your level of risk.

            For rare, expensive events that can't be covered by your own resources you have decide whether you want a high risk life with a higher return or a low risk life with lower return. Most people are cons

      • by griblik (237163) on Friday July 20, 2007 @07:54AM (#19925255)
        Fuck me. I knew the US was litigious, but you guys actually have personal legal insurance? Holy shit.

        Have you guys ever considered that your legal system may be broken if normal people have to pay $500/year just in case someone sues them?
    • We all know that's what the RIAA is doing, too..

      Perhaps, but the RIAA and those they represent (i.e. the major record labels) might find themselves the target of a class action SLAAP [wikipedia.org] in retaliation for abusing the legal system in this way. That should at least be enough to make them think twice.
  • I can't wait to see what the pitch is gonna be like. I predict a beanball to the tune of several million $$ in the plaintiff's favor.
    • ...tune of several million $$ in the plaintiff's favor.

      I think you mean the lawyers favor.
    • by nomadic (141991)
      I can't wait to see what the pitch is gonna be like. I predict a beanball to the tune of several million $$ in the plaintiff's favor.

      You think the RIAA is really going to win millions here? Well that's a brave position to take on slashdot, at least...
  • $375/hour (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @05:28PM (#19919713)
    Mr. Gabriel contended that the $225/hour asked by the Defendant's lawyer in Capital v Foster was far too high. Especially since it was such a simple and straightforward case. Yet he bills nearly twice that amount to other Defendants.

    Shouldn't it be "reasonable" that attorney's fees on both sides of the case be billable at the same cost/hour?

    • Mr. Gabriel contended that the $225/hour asked by the Defendant's lawyer in Capital v Foster was far too high. Especially since it was such a simple and straightforward case. Yet he bills nearly twice that amount to other Defendants. Shouldn't it be "reasonable" that attorney's fees on both sides of the case be billable at the same cost/hour?

      I'm very confused about some subissues:

      • ...since it was such a simple and straightforward case: If it was simple, shouldn't it be reflected in the number of hours
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by nomadic (141991)
        ...since it was such a simple and straightforward case: If it was simple, shouldn't it be reflected in the number of hours rather than cost per hour?

        It's like medicine; a neurosurgeon can charge more for his or her time than a general practitioner can. In law certain cases require specialized knowledge and experience (well, unless you want to lose). Representing someone in a slip and fall case is different than managing a $2 billion class action securities case, for example.

        ...since it was such a s
    • Mr. Gabriel contended that the $225/hour asked by the Defendant's lawyer in Capital v Foster was far too high. Especially since it was such a simple and straightforward case. Yet he bills nearly twice that amount to other Defendants. Shouldn't it be "reasonable" that attorney's fees on both sides of the case be billable at the same cost/hour?

      I don't thing the fees have to be equal. But I don't think it's fair for someone being paid $375 per hour for trying to push his "marginal and untested" theories about copyright law down the throats of innocent people should be able to challenge the "reasonableness" of a defendant's lawyer's fees at $225 per hour. And I don't think you can call it "simple" to be dealing with novel theories of law.

  • This blurb needs a paragraph break. The stuff about Patti Santangelo at the end is entirely background and unrelated to the latest developments. The latest developments, discussed in the beginning, are in a case which is still in progress (and back to square one after the RIAA's end run was blocked by the court's sense of fairness). We know this because RIAA is asking to be paid for their trouble in attempting the end run unsuccessfully.
    • This blurb needs a paragraph break. The stuff about Patti Santangelo at the end is entirely background and unrelated to the latest developments.
      Slashdot doesn't use paragraph breaks.
      • by iabervon (1971)
        Yes it does. It just only shows the first paragraph on the front page, which I think would have been fine here. That's where the "Read {n} bytes more..." link comes from. With the slashdot audience, the more non-critical information you can hide past the jump, the better for people not getting wrong ideas.
  • Well, there's another $513 that the RIAA has wasted and will never get back. Let's hope they get hit with an order to pay the defendant's legal fees, too. A lot of decisions against them forcing them to pay their victims' legal fees may be just the cluestick beating they so desperately need.
  • Several Slashdot members have suggested that, rather than just refer to the RIAA, I should give the names of the record labels that are responsible for these litigations, so that people will know whom to hold accountable. So I've compiled a list of the bad guys: [blogspot.com]

    Arista
    Atlantic
    BMG
    Capitol
    Elektra
    Fonovisa
    Interscope
    Lava
    Loud
    Maverick
    Motown
    Priority
    SONY
    UMG
    Virgin
    Warner

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