Judge William Alsup, in Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation et al. v. Does 1-12, Case No. C 04-04862 WHA in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, ruled on November 16, 2004 that plaintiffs, several movie studios, couldn’t sue several alleged “John Doe” defendant file sharers collectively in one suit. Instead, they must sue each defendant individually.
Joinder of unrelated defendants violated FRCP 20 since, although the basic claim was similar, the claims arose out of different transactions or occurrences. Such joinder may be an attempt to circumvent the filing fees by grouping defendants into arbitrarily-joined actions but it could nonetheless appear improper under Rule 20.
Read the decision here.