“Fake” Daniel R Warner Lawsuit Scam Update: UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh has posted online (Washington Post) additional information to the salacious story of FAKE lawsuits filed with courts to “game” the judicial process with clear premeditated intent. The new information details the continued involvement of Kelly/Warner Law firm of Arizona, specifically detailing a lawsuit naming an apparent “fake” defendant supposedly in India. Attempts to contact attorney Dan Warner and Kelly/Warner Law for comment have been met with their phone going directly to voicemail and their offices locked up and empty in the middle of a business day (oddly the entry door showing clear signs of pry marks perhaps suggesting forced entry or existing concerned clients looking for their files or refund of retainers?).
The Dan Warner Accomplice Richart Ruddie admitted his involvement in the filing of fake lawsuits and agreed to pay 71,000 in restitution. AZ State Bar and federal authorities are currently investigating Attorney Dan Warner and Arron Kelly of the Kelly / Warner Law Firm.
Neighbors say nobody has been seen lately. "Pry marks are kinda spooky"
Bennett Wills has filed two additional “fake lawsuits” in Maryland circuit courts that are comparable to this case. Visionstar, Inc. v. Perez, No. 24C15005743 (Cir. Ct. Balt. City); Cohen v. Wilkerson, No. 06C15070022 (Cir. Ct. Carroll Cy). (Copies of these two complaints are attached). The papers use very similar language, and an investigation conducted by a private detective retained by UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh to assist in his investigation of the phenomenon of fake litigation established that, as in this case, neither of the two individuals who were named as defendants and whose signatures appear on the consent orders live at the addresses shown for them. See attached Declaration of Giles Miller.
Moreover, both cases show obvious signs of being fake: the signatures of defendants “Mark Wilkerson” and “Daniel Perez” appear to have been written by the same hand; and the very carefully handwritten signature of “Mark Wilkerson” spells his name as “Wilerkson.” And in the Visionstar case, the allegation in paragraph 13 about the IP address from which the supposedly defamatory reviews were posted to the Ripoff Report web site is a highly implausible. Generally speaking, a subpoena can be issued in connection with a case seeking to identify the poster of an anonymous comment, but that is something that happens after the complaint is filed, not something that can be listed in the complaint.
Undersigned counsel has contacted inside counsel for Xcentric Ventures, the company that operates Ripoff Report, and ascertained that his client has never received any subpoena to identify the anonymous author of the reports cited in the Visionstar complaint; that attorney also represented that he checked the IP addresses for the reports cited in the complaint, and that none of them was associated with the address 18.104.22.168 as the complaint alleges.
Moreover, when I called the plaintiff in Cohen v. Wilkerson to ask about the case, he stated that he didn’t authorize its filing, and didn’t know who the ostensible defendant (Wilkerson) was. He said he had hired Richart Ruddie to do something about some posts that he (Cohen) thought were libelous, but he had not expected or authorized this lawsuit. And I think that is plausible, though I of course can’t know for sure. (I tried to reach the plaintiff in Visionstar, but haven’t heard back.)
I emailed Wills’s lawyer to ask if he had any comment on these cases, but have not heard back from him.
One more twist: Careful readers will recall that there were some lawsuits involving defendants that couldn’t be found (and, in two instances, fake notarizations) filed in Arizona by the Kelly/Warner LLP firm, which also had some past connection with Ruddie. Well, it turns out that they had also filed a lawsuit in Arizona on behalf of the same Cohen, with regard to some other allegedly defamatory posts. This one was filed against a Robert Smith in India. (That defendant may exist; I cannot determine that, but I am mentioning this case only because of the connection to Cohen v. Wilkerson, where the American defendant could not be found.) It was likewise resolved through a stipulated judgment. And much of the language of Cohen v. Wilkerson (filed five months after Cohen v. Smith) was very similar to the language of Cohen v. Smith.
Finally, note that it is certainly possible that the lawyers were simply trusting either the client or the client’s representative (such as a reputation management company) about the existence of the defendant, and were themselves shocked to learn that the defendant was apparently fake; indeed, that is what Smith’s lawyers expressly said about Wills (and about Smith) in their recent Smith v. Levin filing. But it does look like some person (or perhaps some set of people) was trying to pull a fast one on the legal system, in many courthouses.
Ruddie v. Kirschner was filed pro se in the name of “R. Derek Ruddie,” although the name
below the signature line on the proposed consent order is Richart Ruddie, the perpetrator of the
judicial fraud in this case. The handwriting in that signature bears an astonishing resemblance to the
signatures of Daniel Perez and Mark Wilkerson, as can be seen by comparing Exhibits 3, 4, and 7.
The complaint and consent order papers are a lie from beginning to end. Private investigator Giles
Miller concluded that there was no “Jake Kirschner” at the address listed on the papers, see Miller
Declaration; moreover, a review of the online article that was the subject of the phony proposed
consent order reveals that it was posted on Ripoff Report about an Arizona lawyer named Daniel
3 The complaint also alleges that reports on the web sites of 800Notes.com and Ripoff Report also defamed Brian Jones. Scrutiny of those two web sites shows that on those sites, as well, the statements were about Vantage Acceptance and not about Brian Jones.
-14 Warner, and says nothing about Ruddie. A copy of a screenshot of the original posting is appended
to the attached declaration of Chuck Rodrick. Undersigned counsel consulted with counsel for
Ripoff Report and confirmed that the original posting did not mention Ruddie; the original posting
can also befound on the Internet Archive at http://web.archive.org/web/20160523164930/http://
Other Related Articles / Comments
Volokh for the WashingtonPost.com