Plaintiffs' Notice of Decision re remittitur in Capitol v. Thomas-Rasset
Given the labels' decision -- presented to them in the court's January 22 order cutting the Minneapolis jury's award by 97 percent, from $80,000 to $2,250 per song -- there will be a third trial, though this one will concern only damages. The jury in the first trial in 2007 awarded $9,250, totaling $222,000 for 24 songs, but that verdict was thrown out after Judge Michael Davis determined that one of his jury instructions was improper.
It remains unclear exactly what a third trial will look like. As I've noted:
[T]he court, in its Jan. 22 order, has already determined that $2,250 per work "constitutes the maximum amount a jury could reasonably award to both compensate Plaintiffs and address the deterrence aspect of the Copyright Act." Order at 25-26. So what happens if there's a new trial and the jury again comes back with an award greater than $2,250 per song?... Can this go on ad infinitum?Also unclear is how the court will instruct the jury. Will he tell them that $2,250 per work is the maximum, or will they once again be permitted to return with a verdict of up to $150,000 for each infringed song? If, as seems likely, the jury once again returns with a verdict of over $2,250 -- which the court would presumably remit again -- it appears only the Eighth Circuit can save us all from a real-life Groundhog Day.
Update: here's the RIAA's statement about the current state of affairs:
We have done everything within our power to resolve this case on fair terms. The defendant is someone who knowingly distributed hundreds upon hundreds of unauthorized songs without any regard for those who created them, likely bent on the brazen assumption that she’d never get caught. During both trials she lied about her actions while under oath. Ironically, Ms. Thomas-Rasset claimed during the trials what an ordeal this has been. Meanwhile, every move she and her counsel have made has been with the intent to prolong this case while refusing every reasonable settlement offer. Unfortunately, despite two jury decisions against her and a federal court’s affirmation of her liability and irresponsible behavior, Ms. Thomas-Rasset even refused a settlement offer that was less than half of the judge's remitted amount and that would have been donated to a charity for struggling musicians. In fact, Ms. Thomas-Rasset has asserted that she never intends to pay a penny to settle the case. With the benefit of free counsel, she now seeks to gut the laws that she has repeatedly and blatantly violated.
American taxpayers should not have to bankroll a publicity campaign that the defendant and her counsel apparently seek. But if another trial is what is needed to close the book on this case once and for all, then we are left with no choice but to reject the Court's remittitur and proceed to a new trial on damages.