Filmmakers Pressure Alleged Pirate to Take Lie Detector in Court
Ashley Allen / 3 years ago
Movie studio Voltage, the makers of the Oscar-winning Dallas Buyers Club – starring Matthew McConaughey as an AIDS sufferer who illegally sells medication to those similarly afflicted with the disease – loves to sue BitTorrent users. The company has filled over one hundred lawsuits in US Federal Courts against alleged pirates of Dallas Buyers Club, with many of the cases settling out of court following the payment of a fine.
The latest such instance involves a case brought against Michael Amhari of California. Voltage, the plaintiff, claims that defendant Amhari – identified following the studio obtaining his IP address – illegally downloaded a copy of Dallas Buyers Club via BitTorrent, and is demanding $10,000 in a settlement. After Amhari challenged the decision, pleading his innocence, the plaintiff’s counsel, James Davis, demanded that the defendant submits himself to a polygraph, or lie detector test. The plaintiff, however, began to backtrack on the offer to pay for the test after Amhari agreed to take it, with its plan to pressure the defendant into settling seemed to have backfired.
“Plaintiff demanded that defendant take a polygraph examination in exchange for a dismissal of the case. Plaintiff’s counsel disingenuously stated that he would bear all the costs for such a polygraph test,” Clay Renick, Amhari’s counsel, wrote in a court memorandum. “When plaintiff’s counsel then agreed to take such a test with the proviso that defense costs and attorney fees be covered, plaintiff then refused to pay costs and revoked his offer to conduct a polygraph.”
Renick cites the frivolous polygraph idea as just one example of misconduct on the part of plaintiff counsel Davis, branding the behaviour “galling”.
“After receiving exculpatory evidence and the sworn declaration of defendant, Mr. Davis then refused to file a dismissal and proceeded to demand that defendant appear in the action or he would file a default,” Renick added. “This behavior is galling and it should not be permitted by the court.”
Since, in the absence of the implied guilt that Amhari’s refusal to take a polygraph would have gifted the plaintiff, Voltage’s case rests purely on an IP address, Renick argues that the defendant’s guilt cannot be proven beyond reasonable doubt.
“This action is further proof of the malicious motives of plaintiff’s counsel who proceeds against an innocent defendant with nothing other than an IP-address to support his allegations,” wrote Renick.