Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Jury Consultant Claims Kicked Out Of Federal Court

The United States District Court for the District of Columbia (Chief Judge Boasberg) granted a motion to dismiss a copyright infringement claim brought by a jury consultant against Proud Boy lawyers and declined to exercise jurisdiction over non-payment claims

While the leaders of the Proud Boys have now been convicted and sentenced for their roles in the January 6, 2021, insurrection, smaller waves from their trial continue to wash ashore. This iteration features a squabble between a jury consultant — Plaintiffs In Lux Research and its owner, Lindsay Olson — and the lawyers representing the Proud Boys. In the lead-up to trial, the Proud Boys — Joseph Biggs, Ethan Nordean, Zachary Rehl, Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, and Dominic Pezzola — sought a transfer of their case out of D.C., arguing that jurors in the District are so prejudiced against defendants in January 6 cases that they could not receive a fair and impartial trial here. To support that effort, one of the defense lawyers, John Daniel Hull — allegedly acting on behalf of all the Proud Boys’ defense lawyers — hired In Lux Research to conduct a jury polling analysis for a $30,000 fee. Plaintiffs delivered a report confirming that the District’s attitude toward defendants involved in the Capitol riot is decidedly negative, but no payment ever arrived.

Once it became clear that they were not getting compensated for their services, Olson and In Lux Research initiated this lawsuit naming thirteen Defendants: eight lawyers and five law firms involved in the Proud Boys’ trial. Plaintiffs assert claims against all Defendants for copyright infringement, breach of contract, and unjust enrichment, and claims against just Hull for intentional misrepresentation and promissory fraud.

All Defendants except Hull and his law firm now separately move to dismiss Plaintiffs’ claims against them. As the Court agrees that Plaintiffs fail to state a claim of copyright infringement against Moving Defendants, it will dismiss that count and decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining non-federal claims against them.

Remaining claims

'These factors weigh against retention here. The Court is dismissing the sole federal claim against the Smith Defendants, Hernandez, the Hassan Defendants, the Metcalf Defendants, the Jauregui Defendants, and Pattis. This case has not progressed in federal court past these Motions to Dismiss, and the Court has developed no familiarity with the issues presented beyond the copyright claim it dismisses. Cf. Schuler v. PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP, 595 F.3d 370, 378 (D.C. Cir. 2010) (holding that district court appropriately retained pendent jurisdiction over state claims where it had “invested time and resources” in the case). The Court can thus conceive of no undue inconvenience or unfairness to the litigants that would result from its declining to exercise supplemental jurisdiction. Finally, Plaintiffs will not be prejudiced because 28 U.S.C. § 1367(d) provides for a tolling of the statute of limitations during the period the case was here and for at least 30 days thereafter. See Shekoyan, 409 F.3d at 419 (affirming district court finding that because of this tolling, dismissal of pendent state claims “will not adversely impact plaintiff’s ability to pursue his District of Columbia claims in the local court system”) (citation omitted). Plaintiffs may thus proceed in state or local court if they so desire. 

(Mike Frisch)


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