3and distribute Plaintiff’s copyrighted materials amongst themselves. Opp’n to Mot. to Sever 4.On October 13, 2011, another anonymous Doe Defendant (“Doe Defendant X”) filed aletter under seal with the Court. Letter, ECF No. 16. In this letter, Doe Defendant X stated thathe had been contacted by John Steele, Esq.
regarding this matter. During the phone call, Mr.Steele offered Anonymous the ‘opportunity’ to settle for $3,400 by October 18
. Mr. Steeleinformed Doe Defendant X that Doe Defendant X would be named as a defendant in the caseshould this settlement offer be rejected.Though the Court did previously grant Plaintiff’s request for leave to take discovery priorto the Rule 26(f) conference, the Court finds, upon due consideration, that Doe Defendants 2-30,including John Doe, have been improperly joined in violation of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure20(a)(2) and must be severed.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Fed. R. Civ. P. 21 provides that “[o]n motion or on its own, the court may at any time, on just terms, add or drop a party. The court may also sever any claim against a party.” Fed. R. Civ.P. 21. A district court possesses broad discretion in ruling on a requested severance under Rule21. Hanna v. Gravett, 262 F. Supp. 2d 643, 647 (E.D. Va. 2003) (citing Saval v. BL, Ltd., 71F.2d 1027, 1031-32 (4
Cir. 1983)).Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a)(2) states that permissive joinder of defendants is proper if: “(A) anyright to relief is asserted against them jointly, severally, or in the alternative with respect to orarising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transaction or occurrences; and (B)
John Steele, Esq., is an Illinois-based attorney, who has represented numerous other adultentertainment producers in cases now, or recently pending in the Northern and Southern Districtsof Illinois. See VPR Internationale v. Does 1-1017, No. 11-2068, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64656,at *6 n. 1 (C.D. Ill. Apr. 29, 2011). District judges have begun recognizing Steele’srepresentation of these companies against multiple Doe Defendants, named without sufficientevidence as to their involvement, as “effort[s] to shoot first and identify his targets later.” Mem.Order, Boy Racer, Inc. v. Does 1-22, No. 11-C-2984 ( C.D. Ill. May 5, 2011).
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