WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) – A company’s motion to dismiss claims it infringed on federal and state wiretap statutes was denied in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle denied Project Veritas Action Fund's motions to dismiss Jan. 4.
Democracy Partners sued Project Veritas Action Fund in June 2017 for allegedly operating an undercover sting against the plaintiffs. The defendant asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit on two grounds: the complaint didn’t state a claim and regulations under the D.C. Anti-SLAPP Act, which the court both denied.
Its legal issues began after PVAF contractor Allison Maass allegedly was hired as an undercover intern with the plaintiff. Maass allegedly posed as a Hillary Clinton campaign volunteer. PVAF contractor Daniel Sandini also pretended to be someone else when he posed as a potential donor for the plaintiff.
“They infiltrated Democracy Partners’ offices, stole confidential documents and secretly recorded hours of conversation,” the order states.
The court stated the defendant failed to provide enough evidence to prove damages due to the plaintiff’s fraudulent misrepresentation claim. When it came to the trespassing allegation, the defendant stated the plaintiff didn’t properly claim “unauthorized entry, interference with plaintiff’s possessory interest, and proximately caused damages,” according to the opinion. The court disagreed and did not dismiss the case on those grounds.
For the breach of fiduciary duty claim, the court also decided it shouldn’t be dismissed despite the defendant’s argument that Maass doesn’t have fiduciary duty.
When it came to the defendant’s statement that the wiretap claims should be dismissed, it cited the notion of the "one-party consent" loophole concerning responsibility in wiretap claims. While the court agreed the plaintiff had not proven the intention of the recordings was to trespass, it disagreed the recordings had the potential to be used as a breach of fiduciary duty.
As for the civil conspiracy allegation, the defendants simply stated if the tort claims were dismissed, this claim would be dismissed as well. The court determined this argument fell short.
The defendants also motioned for the court to dismiss the reputation damages and lost contract damages argument, which the court refused.
As for the second motion to dismiss under D.C. Anti-SLAPP Act, the court also denied it under the notion the state law claims were founded on supplemental jurisdiction. The court denied the defendant’s motions on all counts.