Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012 | 2:37 p.m.
A Righthaven LLC copyright lawsuit attorney who has been missing in action for seven months resurfaced Wednesday and publicly aired his grievances about his experience with the company.
Las Vegas attorney Shawn Mangano, who was last heard from publicly in February in relation to Righthaven cases, filed court papers responding to a federal judge’s order requiring him to explain why he missed deadlines in one of the Righthaven cases early this year.
In his response, Mangano said he’s been under stress because he’s been spending a lot of time caring for his ailing mother in Southern California. He acknowledged making mistakes and asked the court for leniency should it impose sanctions.
Mangano’s filings revealed that as an outside Righthaven attorney, he’d had some disputes with Las Vegas attorney Steven Gibson, the founder of the company known for filing 275 no-warning copyright infringement lawsuits in 2010 and 2011 in partnership with the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Denver Post.
The lawsuit campaign failed when judges found the suits lacked merit and the State Bar of Nevada has been looking into the conduct of certain Righthaven attorneys, including Gibson.
Gibson and the R-J have said the suits were needed to crack down on rampant online theft of newspaper content, but defense attorneys say Righthaven was set up as a shakedown operation to pry legal settlements out of defendants with frivolous and meritless lawsuits.
Righthaven never won a case on the merits, with judges in three states dismissing contested cases on grounds that Righthaven lacked standing to sue or that defendants were protected by fair use in using content from the newspapers.
“All of Righthaven’s staff attorneys are long gone. Most, like Righthaven’s current counsel, have been used as scapegoats to mitigate the responsibility of decisions made by others,” Mangano wrote in his filing, in an apparent reference to Gibson.
“I do not know to what ‘others’ he refers, but the responsibility of Mr. Mangano as counsel is clear under the law and, as usual, these are matters that should not be litigated in the press as the issues and analyses are often taken out of context,” said Gibson, who this year has been blaming some of Righthaven’s problems on Mangano’s failure to fulfill his professional obligations.
“Over the course of representation, Righthaven’s counsel has been subjected to repeated physical threats, faced multiple motions for sanctions, endured the criticism of several judges and has had his professional competence and judgment questioned on numerous occasions in publicly-filed documents,” Mangano continued in his filing. “Often these filings have been widely reported through news media and Internet blogs.
“While it may be said that the first one through the wall is the person who experiences the most pain, Righthaven’s counsel could never adequately express the degree of scorn and contempt that he has endured by representing the company,” Mangano wrote in the filing.
The filing comes a few days before Gibson is set to face off in court against defense attorneys in one of the Righthaven cases during a hearing called to clarify whether Gibson is still the CEO of the company and can pursue its appeals or whether a receiver appropriately fired him.
The receiver was appointed to seize Righthaven assets after the company couldn’t, or wouldn’t, pay $318,000 in legal fees to defendants who defeated it in court.