In February, we documented how a judge in the Northern District of Florida halted 27 copyright troll cases naming over 3,500 individuals to determine whether the copyright troll lawyer, Tarik Hashmi, initiated the cases while being unlicensed to practice law in Florida.
In response to the judge, Hashmi did not deny practicing without a license and instead tried to substitute a lawyer to continue the cases. This week, as noted in the Order attached below, the court not only dismissed the substitution, but also all of the cases.
The Order notes that Hashmi had signed an affidavit promising not to practice law in Florida until he was properly licensed. It states that Hashmi "suggested no plausible reading" of the affidavit that nonetheless allowed him to file the actions. Finally, it noted that dismissal of the cases was proper because Hashmi's clients in the 27 cases had presented no evidence, including evidence that they were unaware of Mr. Hashmi's illegal status or whether they had "demanded settlements through Mr. Hashmi and retained the proceeds."
The cases were dismissed "without prejudice," meaning that they can still be refiled by other lawyers, but the order provides further evidence about the dubious business model of copyright trolls. We will keep an eye out to see if the cases are refilled. For now, the current cases are dismissed.