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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Lawyer
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My mother got a letter in the mail from a tv service

Customer Question

My mother got a letter in the mail from a tv service provider saying she had to appear in court because she illegally downloaded a movie but she hasn't even seen that movie and the ip address doesn't match any of our computers. What can we do?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 2 years ago.

My name is ***** ***** I'd be happy to answer your questions today.
Was the letter a notice that they were going to sue unless she pays them, or is it an actual Subpoena calling her into court on a specific date? A subpoena should come with a Complaint attached, and if it comes from a company out of state, it should have been sent via certified or registered mail.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
It has a specific place and time. It is also a federal lawsuit. And it sounds like they are calling her into a law firm.
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you.
When you say "also a federal lawsuit," do you mean that they filed in both state and federal court? What state was the lawsuit filed in? Did they provide a case number ***** documents written on pleading paper?
I'm trying to figure out if she's really being sued or if this is an attempt to scare her into settling. The second is more common, but there are different responses to each scenario. Calling her into a law firm isn't the same thing as saying "You have to appear in court on this day or a default judgment will be entered against you."
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
It says United States District Court for the district of Colorado. There is a Docket number and a comcast file number. There are documents that show what movie but I have no idea what pleading paper is. It also stats that comcast will release her information unless we quash or vacate the subpoena in the court where the subpoena was issued but it doesn't specify the court that issued it.
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Pleading paper has numbers down the side. It's used for filing official documents - you'd notice that it didn't look like a regular document.
That's a notice that Comcast has received a request to release records related to her account. They're legally required to release the information within 30 days unless your mother goes to court and gets a judge to say they don't have to, so they're giving her a chance to go to court and stop the other party from getting her records. If it says U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, that's the court that issued the subpoena.
The first step, if the IP address on the letter is NOT your mother's IP address, is to contact Comcast. They may have made a mistake by sending the letter to her instead of someone else. If that's all that happened, then they'll send the letter to the right person and your mother doesn't have to worry about it. She can also request that Comcast send HER a copy of all records being released pursuant to the subpoena.
The grounds for quashing a subpoena are in Fed. R. Civ. P. 45. Unless they gave Comcast less than 30 days to comply with the request, none of them would appear to apply to this situation.
(A) When Required. On timely motion, the court for the district where compliance is required must quash or modify a subpoena that:
(i) fails to allow a reasonable time to comply;
(ii) requires a person to comply beyond the geographical limits specified in Rule 45(c);
(iii) requires disclosure of privileged or other protected matter, if no exception or waiver applies; or
(iv) subjects a person to undue burden.
Once the records are received by the law firm, they will send a letter to your mother if they still think she illegally downloaded a movie (or someone else in the house did). Then she can decide a course of action based on what the letter says. And if they wind up suing, she'll be allowed to file an Answer denying that she ever downloaded the movie or that the IP address in question belongs to her.
It's important that you are 100% satisfied with my courtesy and professionalism. Thank you.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
OK so have her call comcast and then basically wait to see what happens? Should she show up to the law firm?
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
call them first.
If the notice is directly Comcast to provide records to the law firm on that date, then there's no need for your mother to go to their offices. The subpeona would have to be personally directed at her (and served on her, not mailed) before she could be required to show up.