An appeals court Wednesday refused to block a creditor’s collection actions against Righthaven LLC, the Las Vegas newspaper copyright infringement lawsuit filer.
In the latest in a series of legal setbacks for Righthaven, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Righthaven’s “urgent motion” of Sept. 27 that the court stop attorneys for prevailing lawsuit defendant Wayne Hoehn from executing their judgment against Righthaven for $34,045 in legal fees.
Attorneys for Hoehn defeated Righthaven in one of the 275 infringement lawsuits it filed since March 2010 over Las Vegas Review-Journal and Denver Post material.
U.S. District Judge Philip Pro in Las Vegas found Hoehn, a Kentucky resident, was protected by the fair use doctrine of copyright law in posting on a sports betting website an entire R-J column without authorization.
Pro, like other judges in Nevada and Colorado, also found Righthaven lacked standing to sue because — despite its claims of copyright ownership — the R-J actually maintained control of the column at issue.
Because of courtroom defeats at the hands of Hoehn and other defendants, Righthaven’s financial condition has deteriorated.
Its lawsuit settlement revenue is dwindling and it hasn’t filed lawsuits for months while it waits for one or more of the Nevada judges to rule on whether it can sue under an amended lawsuit contract with the Review-Journal.
The amended contract strengthens Righthaven’s ownership claims to the material it sues over.
Righthaven had sought a stay of execution of Hoehn’s attorney’s fee judgment while it appealed both the underlying decision throwing out its suit against Hoehn and the decision awarding Hoehn his attorney’s fees.
Righthaven had argued to the appeals court Sept. 27 that without a stay in the Hoehn case, “Righthaven may be forced to file bankruptcy to protect its intellectual property and propriety assets from seizure and liquidation.”
The company followed up with another urgent motion Oct. 9, saying it was having difficulty obtaining a bond guaranteeing payment of the fees, that it couldn’t allocate cash to obtain a bond and that Hoehn’s attorneys at Randazza Legal Group in Las Vegas were threatening to seize and liquidate Righthaven’s assets, including the very copyrights it sues over. That motion asked that Righthaven be excused from posting a bond.
Hoehn’s attorneys fired back Sunday, accusing the company of fraudulent transfers by paying its CEO, Las Vegas attorney Steven Gibson, and paying outside attorneys to file frivolous appeals and motions in efforts to avoid paying prevailing defendants’ legal fees.
In a short order on Wednesday, the 9th Circuit denied Righthaven’s motion, writing, “Appellant’s emergency motion for stay pending appeal is denied.”
“The briefing schedule established previously shall remain in effect,” the order said.
While not spelled out in the order, the ruling applied to both Righthaven’s motion that the attorney fee judgment be stayed and its request to be excused from posting a bond, Randazza Legal Group attorneys said.
“This ruling by the 9th Circuit is directly relevant to the court’s Sept. 28 order affirming Righthaven’s obligation to post a bond of $34,045.50 by Oct. 28 in order to stay enforcement of Hoehn’s judgment,” the Randazza attorneys wrote in a filing today in Hoehn’s case in federal court in Las Vegas.
A message for comment was placed with Righthaven.
In Wednesday’s order, a two-judge panel of the 9th Circuit cited case law including a U.S. Supreme Court ruling finding federal courts, in weighing whether to stay judgments, must consider factors including whether the stay applicant has made a strong showing it is likely to succeed on the merits; whether the applicant will be irreparably injured absent a stay; whether issuance of the stay will substantially injure the other parties interested in the proceeding and where the public interest lies.
The court also cited one of its own rulings on factors to be weighed by district courts in ruling on requests for preliminary injunctions.