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Sinclair v. TubeSockTedD

Plaintiff Sinclair, a Minnesota resident, filed a defamation in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against three critics of his Youtube video and blog, and he obtained leave to use discovery to identify the Does. Representing one of the Does, as well as the ISP on whose web site that Doe posted, we objected to the subpoena, and filed an opposition to the ensuing motion for to compel. We argued that there was no diversity jurisdiction to sue Doe defendants, and no personal jurisdiction in DC. We also argued that Sinclair had not pleaded a proper defamation claim and that, in any event, he has not presented any evidence in support of his claim as required to meet the standard to obtain identifying information. In response to Sinclair’s argument that Doe’s counsel could be compelled to identify their own client, Doe argued that the information was protected from disclosure by the First Amendment and the attorney-client privilege, because the purpose of the representation was to protect the client from identification.

The trial court ruled that Sinclair had not shown a basis for diversity jurisdiction (because the defendants were all anonymous) or for personal jurisdiction (because he did not live in DC, and did not plead that any of the defendants lived there), and that he did not meet the standard for identifying anonymous speakers who are sued for defamation.