US Marshalls to Collect Righthaven Court Debt

Righthaven, the group that was trying to earn a living by suing websites for using the news stories and images of its clients (which included several Las Vegas Newspapers) has found itself on the wrong side of the law this week. The US Marshal for the District of Nevada has been authorized by a federal court to use "reasonable force" to seize the $63,720.80 in cash and/or assets after the company failed to pay a court judgment from August 15 and was late in filing an appeal.

Righthaven tried to make a name for itself by suing websites, bloggers, and forum posters over copied newspaper articles. While the company expected to win the several hundred lawsuits it filed, it failed miserably. In one particular case things went awry and a judge ordered them to pay court costs.

In August, the case Righthaven v. Hoehn was thrown out by a federal judge in Nevada, ruling that defendant Wayne Hoehn's complete copy of a newspaper article in a sub-forum on the site Madjack Sports constituted fair use. On August 15, the judge awarded $34,045.50 to the Randazza Legal Group, which represented Hoehn.

In an attempt to avoid paying that judgment the company filed a number of appeals, saying in court documents that being forced to pay the large judgment would put the company into bankruptcy.

But Righthaven failed to deliver its appellate court filing on time. Yesterday, Righthaven admitted that it missed the October 31 deadline for its opening brief in the case and said it was all a "misunderstanding." It asked the court for a few more weeks to write the brief, saying that its counsel was scheduled to undergo a surgical procedure.

Lawyers for Randazza said that the company was "prolonging the appellate process by deliberately creating a manufactured deadline crisis. It is nobody’s fault but Righthaven’s that it cannot file a single opening brief with this Court within the original briefing schedules Righthaven knew of, and could have reviewed at any time." While this happened the Randazza Legal Group was adding more fees to the earlier judgment.

Ultimately the appeals court refused Righthaven's request to delay its August judgment any further. With the money due last Friday extreme measures were taken yesterday. Randazza Legal Group went back to the Nevada District Court to request a Writ of Execution to use the court's enforcers, the US Marshals, to collect the money it was owed. The court clerk issued the writ, and Righthaven's $34,045.50 judgment jumped to $63,720.80 due to all the additional time in court.

"We're going to enlist the US Marshal in marking sure this court's order has some meaning," Marc Randazza told Ars Technica.

He adds that, if Righthaven does not have the cash in its bank accounts, the writ allows his firm to "identify to the US Marshal or his representative assets that are to be seized to satisfy the judgment/order."

Source: Ars Technica

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