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Ed Driscoll

BREAKING: ACORN Files Suit Against Filmmakers

September 23rd, 2009 - 2:32 pm

Via Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government; details at the Politico:

ACORN files suit against filmmakers

ACORN filed suit today in Maryland against conservative filmmakers James O’Keefe, Hannah Giles and conservative Web site Breitbart.com for secretly taping the organization’s employees at its Baltimore office.

In the complaint, ACORN alleges that the filmmakers entered into the organization’s offices in July with a “hidden camera and microphone” and taped employees Tonja Thompson and Shera Williams. Both employees are listed as plaintiffs on the complaint, filed in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.

ACORN is seeking $500,000 for each employee and $1 million for the organization in damages.

Related: House Republican Leader John Boehner Praises IRS Decision to End Partnership with ACORN.”

Update: The Associated Press adds:

Community activist group ACORN is suing the makers of a hidden-camera video that showed employees of its Baltimore office giving tax advice to a man posing as a pimp and a woman posing as a prostitute.The liberal group contends that the audio portion of the video was obtained illegally because Maryland requires two-party consent to create sound recordings.

The two employees seen in the video were fired after it was posted online. The lawsuit says the employees, Tonja Thompson and Shera Williams, suffered “extreme emotional distress.”

The multimillion-dollar lawsuit seeks damages from James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles, who played the pimp and prostitute in the videos, and from conservative columnist Andrew Breitbart, who posted the videos on his Web site.

During his interview with Glenn Reynolds last week on PJTV recorded at the Quincy, Illinois Tea party, Breitbart quipped:

BREITBART: It is the elephant in the middle of the room, that everybody knows it’s a corrupt organization. And that every aspect of it is rank and awful.

I want them to sue me, so I’ll try and come up with a worse thing. I think I will be sued.

REYNOLDS: You’re looking forward to discovery? Is that what you’re saying?

BREITBART: I’m looking forward to discovery. Bring it on! Wouldn’t that be fun to move to DC for a season, and doing some discovery?”

“Developing”, as Matt Drudge would say.

Flashback: “According to the following documents, ACORN, Inc. — the parent organization of all things ACORN –- forfeited its corporate charter in Maryland in 2006. ACORN Housing forfeited its corporate charter in 2008. Any ACORN office in the state of Maryland is potentially operating illegally.”

Update: Hot Air’s Allahpundit writes:

Amazing. In one fell swoop, the lawsuit (a) gives Fox a reason to keep covering the story, (b) presents a thorny legal issue that’ll attract media to the scandal who might not otherwise have touched it, and (c) makes ACORN look like they’re trying to punish people who exposed taxpayer-funded corruption. Which, of course, they are.

Remember, Bertha Lewis told CNN she was grateful to O’Keefe et al. for rooting out those “few bad apples,” but as the boss reminds us, shooting the messenger is the ACORN way.

As Allah adds, “Here’s her gratitude.” Read the whole thing for his prediction of how this might all play out.

Update: At the Corner, Jonah Goldberg posts an email from a lawyer who also has some predictions:

Third, with a little bit of careful thought, the defendants could plead some interesting counterclaims. The federal False Claims Act and RICO come to mind, and would be very interesting.

Fourth, even if the defendants don’t plead any counterclaims, the scope of discovery against ACORN will be incredibly broad, as it almost always is in civil litigation. ACORN has far, far more to lose from what could come out during discovery than what they are asking for in this suit.

Fifth, it’s sorta bizarre that the fired employees are joining in the suit with ACORN, the entity that fired them. That complicates just about every legal theory, and even has possible ethical complications for their attorneys. I’d have to think about the issue some more, but at first blush I think the defendants’ attorneys might want to move to disqualify the ACORN attorneys from representing all three plaintiffs on the grounds that the fired employees have, essentially, wrongful discharge claims against ACORN. Even if the motion is unsuccessful, each of the plaintiffs will have to take a stand, very early on in the litigation, as to whether or not the firings were appropriate. None of them have any good answers to that question.

In short, Learned Hand once said that he feared a lawsuit more than death or taxes. With good lawyering from the defendants (which I’m sure their going to get), ACORN is about to find out what Hand meant. ACORN has very little to gain and a lot to lose.

Read the whole thing.

Update: Paging Admiral Ackbar…Admiral Ackbar to the red comlink please: Glenn Reynolds adds, “I’m Pretty Sure They’re Falling Into A Trap.”

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