On Air
0:00
0:00
Open In New Tab
MPR News

'Copyright troll' lawyer ordered to sell assets to pay debts

Share story

A Minnesota lawyer known for filing so-called porn troll lawsuits is in more trouble. 

Paul Hansmeier and a partner reportedly made millions through filing copyright lawsuits against people who allegedly downloaded pornographic videos illegally.

A federal judge ordered him to sell his assets to pay his creditors.

Earlier this year, Hansmeier filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which enables a debtor to pay creditors over several years. But a bankruptcy judge has converted the case to a Chapter 7, meaning Hansmeier's assets will be sold to satisfy creditors. 

In court, Judge Kathleen Sanberg said Hansmeier can't be trusted.

"The debtor has a pattern and practice of dishonesty with the courts. This case was designed for one purpose only: to thwart the collection efforts of creditors," she said.

Hansmeier's attorney, Barbara May, argued that he is prepared to sell his house and take other actions to pay all valid claims. Hansmeier asserted many claims against him were groundless.

The Minnesota Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility says Hansmeier's thousands of lawsuits against people for alleged illegal downloading of porn amounts to "vexation litigation designed to coerce settlement."

The agency, which specializes in legal ethics, has said Hansmeier should be disbarred or suspended for his actions.