As I have previously noted, on March 4, 2011 the Honorable Gerald Bruce Lee of Eastern District Court of Virginia, aka the Rocket Docket, granted the Motions to Dismiss filed for all named defendants in Federici v Pignotti et al: Monica Pignotti, Jean Mercer, Charly Miller, Linda Rosa, Larry Sarner and Advocates for Children in Therapy. The official order was issued on March 28 and 30 days later, the appeal period expired, thus concluding the case for all named defendants.
However, there was one more loose end to tie up: the John Does 1-10. These were the anonymous defendants Federici believed existed. Of course, since they were not named, they were not served and hence, could not file Motions to Dismiss. Thus, on May 11, 2011 the judge issued an order to Plaintiff Ronald Federici to “show cause as to why this civil action as to John Does 1-10 should not be dismissed” and was ordered to respond within 20 days.
20 days later, Domingo Rivera, on behalf of Ronald Federici filed a Motion to Dismiss for the John Does, without prejudice. The Memorandum stated:
Despite multiple attempts, counsel has been unable to reach Plaintiff regarding the Court’s May 11, 2011 Order. Additionally, due to certain events not directly related to this litigation, counsel does not believe that he can ethically continue representing Plaintiff in any matter, including the instant case. Granting Federici’s Motion to Dismiss Without Prejudice will allow Federici to seek alternate representation so that he may later continue to prosecute this matter against the remaining defendants.
Full document can be viewed here:
What does this mean and why was he unable to be reached? Since the memo gives no reason and events in question “not directly related” were not specified, your guess is as good as mine and anything further I could offer would be only speculation, so I won’t.
What is factually certain is that on June 1, 2011, the judge granted the Motion to Dismiss for the John Does and the case is now officially concluded and terminated for all concerned. The fact it was dismissed without prejudice with regard to the John Does means that he will have the opportunity to refile against the “remaining defendants” meaning the John Does if he should decide to seek “alternate representation” and do so.
My understanding of this is that since the case was dismissed for the named defendants on jurisdiction, any John Does identified would have to be Virginians or individuals who had ties to Virginia which the named defendants did not.
The Dismissal Order for the named defendants on the grounds of jurisdiction for all named defendants and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted for Pignotti and Mercer can be viewed here.
Case closed June 1, 2011.
PS: Although geographically very close (Eastern District VA is literally across the river from DC), this wouldn’t have helped me with the VA case, but here is some good news on the anti-SLAPP legislation front. Washington DC has just passed some quite extensive anti-SLAPP legislation.
The new D.C. statute falls on the more protective end of the spectrum of anti-SLAPP laws. It permits a special motion to strike in lawsuits stemming from acts “in furtherance of the right of advocacy on issues of public interest,” which includes both petitioning the government and addressing issues of public interest in a public forum. It also provides a special motion to quash to those whose personal identifying information is being sought via subpoena, should that information be sought in a matter arising from an act in furtherance of the right of advocacy on issues of public interest.
What we ultimately need to protect everyone in all states is legislation like this at the Federal level. This, however, is a big step forward.