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Author Topic: Info on Woolf, Gafni and Fowler LLP  (Read 1164 times)

Matthew Chan

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Info on Woolf, Gafni and Fowler LLP
« on: June 24, 2014, 02:41:12 PM »
I finally had more time to study the impending lawsuit by Vincent Tylor (VKT) against Vermont Woods Studios. One thing amateurs miss is evaluating the law firm that takes on a client, their motivations, and the method of compensation.

We have established on ELI that most copyright extortion lawyers (CEL) generally work on contingency.  They typically collect anywhere from 1/3 to 40% of the overall collection.  So, CELs have every incentive to negotiate a high settlement if possible. However, they also weigh the ease and aggravation of trying to negotiate a higher settlement amount.

Most law firms have heavy overhead to pay.  High rents, high salaries, and high office support expenses are the norm.  And unless a law firm believes they can score a big win, they will usually take the quick buck.

I looked into Woolf, Gafni, and Fowler (WGF) and did a bit of analysis. I know almost nothing abut the firm except what is published on the Internet. However, I have some experience in dealing with lawyers from a variety of firms both on a personal and professional level.

First off, WGF is "missing" a named partner name "Fowler". Their attorney roster has no bio or photo of any lawyer by the last name of Fowler. However, I have discovered that "missing" partner is Mateo Fowler from Houston, TX.

https://www.linkedin.com/pub/mateo-fowler/38/388/61

Mateo Fowler lists his involvement in WGF from Feb. 2012 to February 2013, only one year.

However, in looking at Chaim Woolf and Adam Gafni, the other named partners, the California Bar reveals the following:

Chaim Woolf
http://members.calbar.ca.gov/fal/Member/Detail/236957

Adam Gafni
http://members.calbar.ca.gov/fal/Member/Detail/230045

Mateo Fowler graduated in 2005 but his license date is 2008.
http://www.texasbar.com/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Find_A_Lawyer&template=/Customsource/MemberDirectory/MemberDirectoryDetail.cfm&ContactID=301480

Chaim was admitted in June 2005 and Adam in January 2004.  That means they have been lawyers at MOST 10 years. Most lawyers upon graduation have to put in some humble-pie, grunt time for a larger firm doing lots of legal research, paralegal type of work, and other work senior lawyers don't want to be bothered with.  They put in their time to either eventually become a partner with a firm they are hired into or they break out to form their own law firms. They do so to pool their resources but, more importantly, share expenses and brainpower to give an image that they are much substantial and larger than they truly are.

It's amusing that Adam is still listed as an associate on his old law firm. http://www.meyersmcconnell.com/gafni.html
Now that I mentioned this publicly, I imagine this page will be taken down shortly.

WGF appears to have been formed only in 2012! Woolf, Gafni, and Mateo Fowler decided to form a partnership. But in Feb. 2013, "Fowler" fell out of the partnership.  He could have been booted out of the partnership or he left the partnership. Either way, it leaves a firm "missing" a named partner leaving Woolf and Gafni to run this youngling law firm.

Assuming Chaim and Gafni graduated from law school in their mid to late 20's, that puts their ages as mid to late 30's.  IN lawyer terms, they are still young lawyers and have SOME experience but they are NOT an Oscar Michelen or William McKenney level lawyers. Not by a long shot.

Whether WGF works on contingency or hourly rate, those guys are in Los Angeles and they NEED to crank in a healthy hourly rate to support their overhead and pay their large mortgages in California. 

Interestingly, WGF keeps emphasizing their "Los Angeles Office" of WGF. This implies that they are either an offshoot of another law firm or they have aspirations to become much larger.  Either way, I can find no trace of a legal entity named "Woolf, Gafni & Fowler LLP" within the California corporation database. 

http://kepler.sos.ca.gov/

They create the illusion that they are larger than they really are by including lawyers "of counsel", out of state, or those lawyers that appear to be loosely associated with WGF.

It may be that I am not looking in the right place. Mateo Fowler lists WGF as being in Houston, TX.  Does that mean WGF was located in Texas for a time? OR that he represented the Houston, TX side of the business?

Under the California business search, I cannot find any listing close to "Woolf, Gafni & Fowler LLP". I have tried just using "Woolf" and "Gafni" but nothing close.  I am soliciting help to find some legitimate registration to WGF. I have to believe it exists somewhere.  I would be shocked if a law firm with so many lawyers didn't have some kind of corporate registration SOMEWHERE.

Assuming I can find some trace of a corporate entity named Woolf Gafni & Fowler, they fit the profile of most copyright extortion lawyers that are young and relatively inexperienced. WGF has only been around since 2012 for gosh sakes.  Every law firm has to somewhere but for the here and now, they are younglings.

Surprisingly, for a guy of his age and firm of his size, Adam has a poor showing for his online presence. It is pretty embarrassing that he is listed only as an "associate" for Meyers & McConnell. 
http://Defiantly.net is Here! Matthew Chan Unleashed! Under the First Amendment, I have the right to share opinions using rhetorical hyperbole, colloquialisms, symbolism, snark, sarcasm, epithets, & combative language. Under Section 230 of CDA, I am only responsible for posts I write, not others.

JLorimer

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Re: Info on Woolf, Gafni and Fowler LLP
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2014, 03:50:14 PM »
This is very interesting research.  It's the kind of stuff I really like to see.  I have nothing to do with VKT but I have been following that other thread very closely.  Nice work.

Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi)

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Re: Info on Woolf, Gafni and Fowler LLP
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2014, 03:57:27 PM »
Matthew is baiting me.. I can tell  ;D
Most questions have already been addressed in the forums, get yourself educated before making decisions.

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Matthew Chan

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Re: Info on Woolf, Gafni and Fowler LLP
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2014, 04:03:07 PM »
I was finally forced into looking at this case for myself.  It is just one too many VKT cases coming across my desk.  I needed to analyze the VKT lawsuit for myself in my own way and style.

I don't care how I get the info or who it comes from.  I just want to know where the hell this law firm is supposed to be based at because it smells very suspicious.

And if something is not right about this law firm, I suspect Vermont Woods and their allies might want to report it to the appropriate authorities.

Remember, Adam Gafni not only targeted Vermont Woods but all its John Does also.  People need to take a page out of the Porn Troll lawsuits and learn how all the John Does teamed up to pummel Prenda down for their extortionistic tactics.

The John Does need to work with Vermont Woods on this.  Adam and VKT appear to want to tempt fate and engage in Porn Troll lawsuit tactics.

Matthew is baiting me.. I can tell  ;D
http://Defiantly.net is Here! Matthew Chan Unleashed! Under the First Amendment, I have the right to share opinions using rhetorical hyperbole, colloquialisms, symbolism, snark, sarcasm, epithets, & combative language. Under Section 230 of CDA, I am only responsible for posts I write, not others.

Matthew Chan

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Re: Info on Woolf, Gafni and Fowler LLP
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2014, 07:52:22 PM »
It appears that WGF was originally based in Texas.

http://www.bizapedia.com/tx/WOOLF-GAFNI-AND-FOWLER-LLP.html

http://www.scribd.com/doc/231198510/Woolf-Gafni-Fowler-June-2014-Texas-Corporation-Listing

If that is correct, that would make WGF a foreign corporation in California.

http://www.sos.ca.gov/business/be/faqs.htm

However, I can find no evidence the WGF has made any proper corporate filings in California although most of the lawyers listed on the WGF website are based and actively operate in California.  From what I can tell, the firm is inappropriately operating in California. Even if WGF was a foreign corporation, it should show up in the California corporation database as a foreign corporate.

Take a look at what a legitimate foreign corporation listing should look like, search "Wells Fargo", "Macy's", or any other chain business that exists in multiple states.  There is a field "jurisdiction" which lists which state the corporate entity is homed.

As of June 24, 2014, Texas Secretary of State corporation database lists WGF as being "expired" and "inactive".  WGF has no registered agent or officers listed in Texas. So WGF cannot be homed in Texas.  WGF is not homed in California. So, exactly where is WGF homed?

http://kepler.sos.ca.gov/

http://www.scribd.com/doc/231198510/Woolf-Gafni-Fowler-June-2014-Texas-Corporation-Listing

And regardless of where WGF is homed, why is WGF not listed in the California Corporation database?  Supposedly, there are all these smart, expert lawyers with WGF.  And yet, their appears to be no corporate registration that can be found for them? I have not searched all 50 states so there is a possibility WGF might show up in one of the other 48 states corporation database but somehow I doubt it.

I cannot say definitely but WGF may not legally exist at all.  WGF may, in fact, be a non-existent entity.  If that is the case, many of the lawyers associated with WGF could be in trouble.

It appears someone needs to contact the California Bar or the California Secretary of State to see if they can find additional information on WGF.
http://Defiantly.net is Here! Matthew Chan Unleashed! Under the First Amendment, I have the right to share opinions using rhetorical hyperbole, colloquialisms, symbolism, snark, sarcasm, epithets, & combative language. Under Section 230 of CDA, I am only responsible for posts I write, not others.

Matthew Chan

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Re: Info on Woolf, Gafni and Fowler LLP
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2014, 01:21:12 PM »
I would like to add that while lawyers Woolf and Gafni may technically and individually be able to practice law and represent clients in California, there is a strong possibility that ALL or the majority of the WGF lawyers are engaged in FALSE ATTORNEY ADVERTISING and false representation.

I believe that in most State Bar Associations this is generally a mild offense. However, when you have so many lawyers trying to say and claim they belong to a firm but said firm doesn't appear to legitimately exist or registered anywhere?  I think that is a serious issue.

Any legal document they file into any court system using the WGF name is possibly called into question.  It doesn't mean that the filings are not valid but claiming you are part of a law firm that isn't registered anywhere (that I could find) is risky business.

Between all the WGF lawyers, I wonder how many cases, suits, and documents they have filed in since 2013 when Fowler left.  Conservatively, there have to be dozens if not hundreds of documents POSSIBLY using the WGF name inappropriately.

The lawyers who have so conveniently attached their names to WGF might want to do some homework very fast.

And even if they get WGF legitimately filed, all one has to do is look at WHEN their registration dates and when these articles were researched, written, and published.

And as for any ex-WGF clients who might be dissatisfied or felt taken by them for whatever reason, those clients will not take kindly to the fact that WGF might not have been a legitimately registered business entity.

« Last Edit: July 01, 2014, 01:25:18 PM by Matthew Chan »
http://Defiantly.net is Here! Matthew Chan Unleashed! Under the First Amendment, I have the right to share opinions using rhetorical hyperbole, colloquialisms, symbolism, snark, sarcasm, epithets, & combative language. Under Section 230 of CDA, I am only responsible for posts I write, not others.

Greg Troy (KeepFighting)

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Re: Info on Woolf, Gafni and Fowler LLP
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2014, 04:28:47 PM »
That is great news, congratulations!
Every situation is unique, any advice or opinions I offer are given for your consideration only. You must decide what is best for you and your particular situation. I am not a lawyer and do not offer legal advice.

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lucia

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Re: Info on Woolf, Gafni and Fowler LLP
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2014, 04:51:26 PM »
It is great news. It would be wonderful if this is a written document and we could post relevant documents on scribbed. That would help future people see that a suit was filed and.... dismissed!

Jerry Witt (mcfilms)

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Re: Info on Woolf, Gafni and Fowler LLP
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2014, 12:34:04 AM »
Yay for you Peggy!
Although I may be a super-genius, I am not a lawyer. So take my scribblings for what they are worth and get a real lawyer for real legal advice. But if you want media and design advice, please visit Motion City at http://motioncity.com.

Matthew Chan

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Re: Info on Woolf, Gafni and Fowler LLP
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2014, 02:57:59 AM »
Yes, but whodathunk that anyone would run into lawyers that do not have registered corporate names for their alleged law firms. I think it is rare to run into them but they gave themselves away by their suspicious self-description.

Also, Attorney Adam Gafni is a bit of an anomaly.  He represented VKT who is big on the Internet but Gafni has barely any Internet presence himself!  LOL! 

I think WGF didn't register because it has something to do with the crazy California franchise fees to do business there.  I like California but no way I want to set up shop there.  But if you choose to be a California law firm, you have to pay to play, if I am not mistaken.

It is great news. It would be wonderful if this is a written document and we could post relevant documents on scribbed. That would help future people see that a suit was filed and.... dismissed!
http://Defiantly.net is Here! Matthew Chan Unleashed! Under the First Amendment, I have the right to share opinions using rhetorical hyperbole, colloquialisms, symbolism, snark, sarcasm, epithets, & combative language. Under Section 230 of CDA, I am only responsible for posts I write, not others.

Matthew Chan

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Re: Info on Woolf, Gafni and Fowler LLP
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2014, 03:05:09 AM »
I guess Gafni's attempts to shut you up has failed for the moment. He chose to quietly slither away. 

One day, someone really needs to follow-up on some of the business gossip I been getting regarding VKT.

So I just got a notice that the VKT lawsuit filed against me by Adam Gafni of Woolf, Gafni and Fowler has been dismissed.  I don't think it's a coincidence.
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Re: Info on Woolf, Gafni and Fowler LLP
« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2014, 11:34:37 AM »
So I just got a notice that the VKT lawsuit filed against me by Adam Gafni of Woolf, Gafni and Fowler has been dismissed.

Pertinent questions: was this a voluntary dismissal (done by the plaintiff's counsel) or involuntary (done by the judge), and was it dismissed without prejudice (can be filed again) or dismissed with prejudice (over and done with for good)?

lucia

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Re: Info on Woolf, Gafni and Fowler LLP
« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2014, 01:36:00 PM »
DavidVGoliath,
I'm wondering the same thing. That's why I'm eager to see any legal documents as they become available.   Earlier on, I went to wikipedia to edumacate myself on 'with  prejudice' and 'without prejudice', and I came to suspect this will be 'without prejudice'. The reason is that the case had possibly not gotten far enough to even permit a 'with prejudice' ruling.   Specifically, wikipedia states

Quote
In general, the rule for whether or not a case is dismissed with or without prejudice depends on what condition the case is in and whether "jeopardy" has attached to the case. If jeopardy is attached to a case, a dismissal or a resolution is "with prejudice" and the case can never be litigated again. In the case of a trial by jury, jeopardy attaches when the jury is empaneled and a dismissal (for prosecutorial misconduct or harmful error) at that point must be with prejudice. In the case of a bench trial (trial by the judge only), jeopardy attaches when the first witness in the case is sworn.

VKT asked for a jury trial, and no jury as impaneled, so I suspect any dismissal will be 'without prejudice'. But... that suspicion is based on my "education" which was acquired by reading wikipedia-- so take my guess for what it's worth.

That said: dismissed is a blow to the person who filed the suit.  From the VKT perspective, at best they need to start all over and remedy whatever screwup happened in the first place.  So this is good news for Peggy. 

We'll see if it stays "good news". Quite honestly, VKT started with one set of attorneys (Wright) switched to a 2nd set to file. Maybe VKT will switch to yet another set of attorneys and file in Vermont!   I still predict that if he does so, the award will be small.

--------- --------- --------- --------- --------- ---------

BTW: picking up on an earlier discussion, you asked me if I knew of precedents where a judge has awarded the minimum $200 levy on an infringer. I didn't at the time, but a commenter (Kevin Sutherland) who intended to 'evidence' to suggest judges do not hand out $200 statutory minimum awards  actually posted a case where the judge did do precisely that!  The case is  Bright v. Media Right, which had two defendants, 'Media Right' and Orchard.  In the case of 'Orchard', the judge wrote:

Second, the Court found that Orchard had proven that its infringement was innocent, and thus ordered Orchard to pay only minimal statutory damages of $200 per Album, for a total of $400. Id. at *8-9.
So here, to show evidence that courts are  unlikely to award $200 for innocent infringement, you have dropped in our lap a case where the court did precisely that. Orchard copied and sold two albums, but they proved they did not know they were infringing, so the judge assessed $200 per infringement against Orchard.

In contrast, the other defendant -- Media Right-- was unable to prove they were innocent. On the other hand, Bright couldn't prove they were willful. And the judge awarded Bright $2000 from that plaintiff. That tallied to a total of $2400. The Judge award no attorney's fees to the plaintiff.

This case was appealed to the 2nd Circuit who upheld the tiny judgement and lack of attorney's fees. They also upheld that the infringement was per album and not per song.  ( That judgement was appealed to SCOTUS and as far as I can tell, SCOTUS did not hear the appeal.  Kevin Sutherland appears to suggest otherwise -- with a ruling happening this year. But I believe he is mistaken. He also quoted from judge's statements in trademark cases to explain what a judge would do in a copyright case.)

For details see http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-2nd-circuit/1519945.html

So, very small awards are not only theoretically possible, they sometimes occur and are upheld on appeal.

I suspect these outcomes with very small levies are relatively rare because the copyright owners who file generally do have to go to the expense of hiring an attorney. When the case is either (a) 'de minimis', (b) provably not-willful or (c) even just 'possibly willful but the copyright owner can't prove that', they will decide the possible outcomes range are (a) "losing  having to pay their own and  possibly the defendants attorney fees", (b) "winning" and getting $200 to offset their own attorney's fees and (c) "winning" and getting something like $2000 which is not enough to cover their attorney's fees. 

Attorney's acting on contingency will avoid these cases because they can't make any money. Those hired on an hourly basis might take it but will likely advise their client of the risks. At best the client will settle when the reality that they are writing checks and risk not  getting $30,000 dawns on them.   

In contrast, the cases that go forward tend to involve situations where the copyrighted material is income generating and the plaintiff can make a pretty good case the plaintiff not only caused monetary harm but knew the use was infringing.

Copyright holders who are not delusional about likely awards weigh things carefully. While it is true that some of them have little sympathy for those who violate copyright non-wilfully and feel frustration that pursuing even obviously willful infringers is expensive, it remains the case that judges have wide latitude and do sometimes deem a usage a violation, but give very small awards to the copyright owners. At least in the above case, the Orchard paid only $200 per album.




JLorimer

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Re: Info on Woolf, Gafni and Fowler LLP
« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2014, 02:13:43 PM »
Kevin Sutherland has been a great example of how these guys talk a huge game, use extreme scare tactics, and even try to "reason" with people.  I hope people find the thread here and there as a future reference and learn not to be scared of all the hot air these types blow around.  He has absolutely nothing to say now that Peggy has reported the case dropped.

lucia

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Re: Info on Woolf, Gafni and Fowler LLP
« Reply #14 on: July 02, 2014, 02:41:19 PM »
Yes. His argument was exceptionally bad. But by the time I read it, the case was dropped. I thought it best to merely report that.

That said: I googled to find the cases he mentioned in sufficient detail to find.  They were trademark cases (and so irrelevant) and the copyright case was an example of a judge awarding $200-- the absolute minimum permissible if there was indeed an infringement.  It was also a case where the defendants offered to settle for $3000, but the plaintiffs refused that settlement demanding $1,000,000.   The defendants had evidently made $600 on the sale of the infringing materials.

Not only did the judge not make his decision based on "simple arithmetic" of averaging the $3000 offerred with the 1,000,000 demanded, he awarded the plaintiffs  less than they would have gotten had they settled.

This case oferred up by Sutherland is a classic in showing the risk to plaintiffs who try to extract extortionate amounts (e.g. $1,000,000) for injuries that if they exist at all are minor (here, $600).  It is such a good example for the ELI side, that it's going to need a post of it's own!

 

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