Case Type: Public Interest Litigation
Company: GirlsDoPorn.com Website
GirlsDoPorn.com Lawsuit Back on Track for Trial
Attorneys for the 22 female plaintiffs in three separate lawsuits against the owners of GirlsDoPorn.com will now move forward to trial claiming damages in excess of $22 million, in San Diego Superior Court. In an apparent effort to delay the trial, Michael Pratt filed for bankruptcy protection. His counsel, Aaron Sadock, removed the entire case as to all defendants to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. In a hearing in which the Plaintiffs sought to have the case remanded to state court, the Chief Bankruptcy Court Judge commented that what Defendants had done was “reprehensible.” The Chief Judge found the removal improper and set an Order to Show Cause (OSC) hearing on whether to impose sanctions against Defendant Pratt and his counsel Aaron Sadock for their conduct. While the OSC hearing was pending, Pratt and Sadock made a statutory offer to settle the potential sanctions for $110,000. This offer was accepted by plaintiffs, and judgment was entered against Pratt and Sadock jointly and severally as payment of the sanctions sought. The judgment was ultimately paid in full by Aaron Sadock and/or Pratt.
The plaintiffs are represented in the matter by Sanford Heisler Sharp’s California Managing Partner Ed Chapin, as well as by Holm Law Group’s Managing Partner Brian M. Holm and Stokes O’Brien partner John O’Brien. According to Chapin, Pratt’s bankruptcy filing on January 23, 2019, was his last gasp effort to avoid a rapidly approaching jury trial. The plaintiffs were just 44 days away from their original March 8, 2019 trial date when Pratt sought bankruptcy protection for himself, then improperly removed the entire case as to all defendants to federal court.
In addition to Pratt, other defendants in the litigation include the GirlsDoPorn.com website, along with Andre Garcia; Matthew Wolfe; BLL Media, Inc.; BLL Media Holdings, LLC; Domi Publications, LLC; EG Publications, Inc. M1M Media, LLC; Bubblegum Films, Inc.; Oh Well Media Limited; Merro Media, Inc.; Merro Media Holdings, LLC; Clockwork Productions, Inc.; UHD Productions, LLC; Bubblegum Films, LTD; Greenhill Services, LTD; Sidle Media Limited; and Roes 1-550, inclusive.
The defendants, including Michael Pratt, Matthew Wolfe, and Andre Garcia, operate a San Diego-based pornography business that publishes the videos they produce on their subscription pornographic websites –www.girlsdoporn.com and www.girlsdotoys.com. Defendants also operate and publish to “Channels” on many free and extremely popular pornographic websites such as www.PornHub.com, www.xVideos.com, and www.RedTube.com, where the videos are available to anyone with an Internet connection, and have been viewed over 1 billion times.
The women allege they were exploited by the defendants after answering modeling advertisements on Craigslist. When Plaintiffs submitted their personal information to sham modeling websites (such as www.beginmodeling.com), they became targets of Defendants’ fraudulent recruiting scheme for www.girlsdoporn.com.
After submitting pictures of themselves, along with their cell phone numbers and email addresses, to these sham “modeling” websites, Defendants advised Plaintiffs that the job was an “adult gig” for a “legitimate Southern California production company” and offered to pay them around $5,000 for one session. When the Plaintiffs asked questions about distribution of the videos, Defendants insisted on explaining over the phone. Once on the phone, Defendants falsely told each Plaintiff that they were an Australian production company and that the videos they produced were sold on DVD in Australia, New Zealand and other countries outside the United States. The Defendants repeatedly assured the young women, often struggling college students, that their videos would be distributed on DVD and would never be posted on the Internet or available in the U.S.—when in fact, Defendants’ business plan relied entirely upon posting the videos online.
Integral to their scheme were the “reference women” who Defendants paid to contact Plaintiffs by phone, text, and FaceTime. Defendants coached these women to assure prospective models that they had previously filmed videos for Defendants, that the videos were never online, and that Plaintiffs would remain completely anonymous. Some “references women” did not know the truth (because their video was not posted online yet) or they were friends of the Defendants that were paid to lie.
According to attorney Brian Holm, “Defendants’ paid references sit at the heart of Defendants’ fraudulent scheme because Defendants were able to turn other young women, whom plaintiffs were much more inclined to trust, into a mouthpiece for Defendants’ lies.”
At 18-to-22 years-old, the Plaintiffs flew to San Diego from their hometowns and colleges across the U.S. and Canada believing they would receive around $5,000 to film a private and anonymous adult video that would never be released in the United States or on the Internet.
When Plaintiffs’ arrived in San Diego, Defendants took them to an apartment or hotel room where, unbeknownst to Plaintiffs, Defendants began a “grading” process, assigning each woman an A, B, C, or D based on their age and attractiveness. After Pratt assigned a grade, he often reduced the payment originally promised before the Plaintiff flew to San Diego. As a former employee testified, the prices quoted to the prospective victims were “highballed,” meaning “[a] larger figure was quoted to get them on the plane.”
If the Plaintiffs balked at the change in payment terms, Defendants applied pressure, telling the women that if they refused to go through with the video, the Plaintiffs would have to reimburse Defendants for the cost of the flight to San Diego and the hotel room and find their own way home. Defendants also offered the Plaintiffs marijuana and alcohol, knowing many of them were underage, in an effort to lower their faculties. Having flown across the country, alone in a hotel room with at least two men who controlled their return flight, Plaintiffs felt they had no choice but to accept the lower figure.
A month or two after filming, Defendants published the video on their subscription websites and posted promotional clips of the video on many other websites. Almost immediately, Plaintiffs received phone calls and messages from their friends and family that they had just been sent a link to a video of the Plaintiff having sex. Within 48 hours, the links to the free clips of the videos on PornHub and other free websites were sent to the Plaintiffs’ high school and college classmates, friends, sororities, professors, parents, brothers, church members and any other person in their lives. Many Plaintiffs were ostracized by friends and family and each one suffered extreme distress, became depressed, and a few even attempted suicide. Many Plaintiffs reached out to Defendants to complain about their videos being distributed on the Internet; in response, Defendants blocked their phone numbers and/or had their attorneys contact the victims to threaten to sue the Plaintiffs.
The Plaintiffs collectively allege that the Defendants perpetrated intentional misrepresentation, fraudulent concealment, false promises, negligent misrepresentation, misappropriation of name and likeness, negligence, breach of contract, promissory estoppel, and unlawful and fraudulent business practices. Plaintiffs also allege fraudulent transfer as Defendants are believed to have transferred the videos and their funds overseas to hide assets.
About Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP
Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP is a public interest class-action litigation law firm with offices in Baltimore, MD; New York; Washington, D.C; Nashville; San Francisco, and San Diego. Our attorneys have graduated from the nation’s top law schools, clerked for judges throughout the United States, and amassed extensive experience litigating and trying cases that have earned more than one billion dollars for our clients.
The firm specializes in civil rights and general public interest cases, representing plaintiffs with claims of employment discrimination, sexual violence, labor and wage violations, predatory lending, consumer fraud, and whistleblowing, among other claims. Along with a focus on class actions, the firm also represents individuals and has achieved extraordinary success in the representation of executives and attorneys in employment disputes.
For more information, visit www.sanfordheisler.com or call (202) 499-5200 or email email@example.com. For the latest news, visit our newsroom or follow us on Twitter at @sanfordheisler.
About Holm Law Group, PC
Holm Law Group represents victims of elder abuse, catastrophic personal injury, medical malpractice, wrongful death and fraud, and has recovered millions for victims and their families. Extensive experience in these specialized areas of law makes Holm Law Group the perfect firm for other attorneys to refer cases to or co-counsel with. Holm Law Group represents victims throughout Southern California. For more information visit www.holmlawgroup.com or call (858) 707-5858 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
About Stokes O’Brien, LLP
Stokes O’Brien, LLP is a San Diego-based litigation firm, representing individuals and businesses, which specializes in business disputes including fraud, breach of contract, real estate disputes, shareholder/partner disputes, injuries on another’s property, trade secret theft, and financial elder abuse. For more information visit www.stokesobrien.com or call (619) 696-0017 or email email@example.com
For more information, contact Jamie Moss, newsPRos, 201-493-1027, firstname.lastname@example.org