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Animaccord Ltd. v. The Individuals, Partnerships, and Unincorporated Associations

Discussion in 'Civil Court, Procedure & Litigation' started by Gayle Calter, Apr 3, 2021.

  1. Gayle Calter

    Gayle Calter Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
    Florida
    I am British & live in the UK. I had a Limited Company (incorporated) in the UK but this was dissolved in November 2020. The Plaintiff is suing 600 online stores for copyright infringement - this is the 3rd similar case they’ve brought to the federal court since December. I thought it was a scam but thought it best not to ignore it. I found my company name on the list of 600 defendants so I informed the Plaintiff’s lawyer that the company was dissolved but he then told me I was therefore responsible & they would accept $25000 out of court settlement. The defendants on the civil lawsuit are named as ‘The Individuals, Partnerships, and Unincorporated Associations identified on Schedule A’. What should I do as my business in the UK was incorporated not unincorporated as per the summons? Am I responsible? I don’t know what to do as British law is different to the US law & I don’t know the process. Any advice will be greatly appreciated. I have to reply to the Court & Plaintiff’s Lawyer within 10 days.
     
  2. justblue

    justblue Well-Known Member

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    If you are being sued in Federal court, you will need to consult/hire a Florida attorney. This is a link to the Florida Bar Association and they will provide you with a list of attorney that you can review.

    The Florida Bar
     
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  3. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Unfortunately, you will have to spend the money on a defense. Otherwise they may get a default judgment against your corporation and you. It's easy to "pierce the corporate veil" when you are a one person corporation.
     
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  4. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    Actually, it's not easier than piercing the corporate veil for a corporation with more than one shareholder. The legal standards are the same. The only difference is that with a single shareholder that single shareholder has complete control of the corporation and thus there is no other shareholder there to constrain what the sole shareholder does. That can make it easier for the shareholder to be careless and do the sort of things that opens up the door to an attack of piercing the corporate veil. But so long as the sole shareholder takes care to properly respect the separate existence of the corporation an attempt to hold shareholder liable via piercing the corporate veil would fail.
     
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  5. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    The plaintiff is being a little bit loose with things here. If only your limited company was named in the lawsuit then only the company is currently at risk of a judgment against it in the lawsuit. The plaintiff would need to add you personally to the lawsuit for them to obtain judgment against you. I strongly suggest seeking advice ASAP from a civil litigation attorney in Florida who is experienced in litigating in federal court, preferably one knowledgeable about copyright law. It may be that you need to do nothing right now as the limited company is dissolved, though the details of the dissolution would matter.
     
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  6. Gayle Calter

    Gayle Calter Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you for your replies. The company was dissolved as it wasn’t making any money & there was no money in the company. My company was incorporated so does that make a difference as the lawsuit is against individuals, partnerships & unincorporated associates? Can they just add my name to it when the information they have already gathered for the lawsuit is all my incorporated company details. If there’s no other way & I end up settling out of court is the £25000 negotiable as I don’t have that sort of money? Sorry for all the questions.
     
  7. Gayle Calter

    Gayle Calter Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Sorry that should be $25000
     
  8. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Yes, they can add individuals as soon as they identify them.

    In fact, the complaint leaves space for them by listing, as defendants, ABC Companies 1-100 and John Does 1-100.

    Is it the Nike lawsuit? I found it on PACER, the federal court's case search website. 1:2021-cv-00248-SHS filed in NY on 1/12/21.

    Unless you were a big fish, there are probably hundreds of defendants that sold a ton of counterfeit products. You might be able to negotiate down to just your revenues from the sales plus a penalty. You should consult an attorney if you want to do something like that.

    You show Florida as jurisdiction so if I'm wrong about the case, the answers still apply.
     
  9. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    So...your company name is listed, but your name is not?

    If only your dissolved company has been named as a defendant, why would you do anything?

    The owner of a corporation is not personally liable for the corporation's debts in the absence of a finding by the court to that effect. Google "piercing the corporate veil" or "corporation alter ego" for more information in this regard.

    You have to reply? That's not really what you meant, is it? What you meant is that your corporation's deadline to file a responsive pleading is coming up. Right?

    From looking at the complaint, it seems pretty obvious that this is a situation where the plaintiff's lawyer is looking for quick settlement with as many of the defendants as possible and likely has no intention of actively litigating the lawsuit. Keep in mind that, even if the plaintiff gets a judgment against your corporation, it's only enforceable in Florida (initially) and eventually in the rest of the United States. Does your dissolved corporation have any assets in Florida or anywhere in the U.S.? I'm assuming it doesn't, so what do you care if a judgment is entered in a Florida federal court against a UK corporation that no longer exists? In order to enforce a judgment in the UK, the plaintiff would have to file a new action in the UK. Even if the plaintiff could obtain a UK judgment, again, what do you care since the corporation is dissolved?

    Piercing the corporate veil is not even remotely easy -- especially when the lawsuit is pending in the U.S. and the corporate defendant is located in another country. How do you suppose the plaintiff will get evidence to support an alter ego claim (which, by the way, is not even pleaded in the complaint)? Federal courts don't hand out alter ego judgments just for the asking -- even in a default situation.

    It's the lawsuit mentioned in the subject header of the thread -- it's pending in the Southern District of Florida as case #21-21088 (and, as the OP mentioned, there are two other similar suits filed by the same plaintiff within the last few months).
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2021
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  10. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Oops. Guess I should read the subject headers.
     
  11. Gayle Calter

    Gayle Calter Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Last edited: Apr 5, 2021
  12. flyingron

    flyingron Well-Known Member

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  13. flyingron

    flyingron Well-Known Member

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    Never take legal advice from the lawyer who is representing the person suing you.
     
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  14. Gayle Calter

    Gayle Calter Law Topic Starter New Member

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    As I have no understanding of the US legal system, what is a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal? Is that where someone named on the summons has settled out of court? Do I need a lawyer or can I reply to the summons via the court and ask for a dismissal as my company was incorporated and therefore not relevant to the Lawsuit as Defendants are listed as The Individuals, Partnerships, and Unincorporated Associations identified on Schedule A. My dissolved company is mentioned on the Schedule A but as previously mentioned it was incorporated but also dissolved in November 2020.
     
  15. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    As I explained previously, that's BS.

    It's relevant to you in that you own(ed) a company named as a defendant. There are probably a bunch of issues that might be worth discussing if your company weren't dissolved, but it's not worth discussing personal jurisdiction and other issues like that when the company is dissolved.

    I'd suggest guessing again. I can think of no good reason to do that.

    A corporation (or what's called a "limited company" in the UK) must be represented by an attorney. Also, none of that stuff would be appropriate in responding to a lawsuit.

    This is a civil matter, not a criminal matter, and a civil judgment -- even if it were against you, as opposed to your now dissolved company -- would have no impact on your ability to visit the U.S. now and then.

    As I wrote previously, it looks a lot like this plaintiff is hoping for some quick settlements but almost certainly isn't expecting most of the defendants to respond in any way. I'd bet a couple dollars that, once a few settlements have been reached, the plaintiff will dismiss the lawsuit.

    Masha and the Bear
     
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  16. flyingron

    flyingron Well-Known Member

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    It's hard to tell just who they are suing because all the parties in exhibit A are under seal.

    Voluntary dismissal means that the plaintiff asked to have the case removed, usually without prejudice meaning they can refile it later Just why they decided to do this I do not know. I've not dug through the filings other than the initial complaint.
     
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  17. Gayle Calter

    Gayle Calter Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Does anyone know the correct wording I should use when I write to the Court in response to the summons? It says in the email I received from the Plaintiff's lawyer "A response to the Complaint should be filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida within twenty one (21) days of receiving the attached Summons".
     
  18. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Such a question goes beyond the scope of this (or any) internet forum. You really should seek the advice of an attorney.
     
  19. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    It's as if you're not reading what I've written.

    "If only your dissolved company has been named as a defendant, why would you do anything?"

    "A corporation (or what's called a "limited company" in the UK) must be represented by an attorney." You can write anything you like to the court, but it won't have any different impact than if you write nothing.

    There's more. Please re-read my prior responses. The bottom line is that, while you can and should consult with a solicitor or barrister in your area or an attorney in southern Florida, I can seen no good reason for you to do anything with respect to this lawsuit.
     
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  20. Gayle Calter

    Gayle Calter Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I am very grateful for all the information I have gleamed from you in previous posts. However, my concern is the Plaintiff's lawyer has my name and has been in correspondence with me and I am somewhat worried he will remove my company name from the Lawsuit and add me instead as an individual. AdjusterJack in an earlier reply said "Yes, they can add individuals as soon as they identify them. In fact, the complaint leaves space for them by listing, as defendants, ABC Companies 1-100 and John Does 1-100." Hence my concern.
     

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