A federal judge just dismissed the lawsuit filed by former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page against the Democratic National Committee, the law firm Perkins Coie, and Perkins Coie lawyers Marc Elias and Michael Sussman. The judge made it crystal clear that the lawsuit showed absolutely no reason for being filed with his court in the first place.
Page had claimed that he had been defamed by information in Christopher Steele‘s dossier that has been reported by media outlets. The dossier was part of research done for Fusion GPS, a company reportedly hired by Perkins Coie, which had been working for the DNC and Clinton campaign. Page also claimed that Elias and Sussman in particular leaked information about him that was reported in the media.
In a brief 5-page order, Chief Judge Joe Heaton stated that Page’s lawsuit must be dismissed because it was filed in a jurisdiction that does not have authority over any of the defendants. The complaint was brought in federal court in the Western District of Oklahoma, but neither Elias nor Sussman live in the state, and neither the DNC nor Perkins Coie are based there.
“Plaintiff has offered nothing to suggest that the individual defendants are domiciled in Oklahoma and it appears undisputed that none of them are,” the judge wrote regarding Elias and Sussman.
When it came to the DNC and Perkins Coie, the judge said, “Ordinarily, a corporation is deemed to be ‘at home’ in the state where it is incorporated, where it has its principal place or business, or both.” He went on to say, “Here, there is no suggestion that either the DNC or the defendant law firm were incorporated in, or had its principal place of business in, Oklahoma.”
Page had argued that because the DNC has an Oklahoma affiliate in the form of the Oklahoma Democratic Party, that was enough of a connection. The judge disagreed, pointing out the every state has their own Democratic party. “It cannot be ‘at home’ in every state,” the judge said, relying on a past Supreme Court decision.
Judge Heaton summed up the point by saying Page “has not suggested any plausible basis for concluding that personal jurisdiction over the defendants can be based on general jurisdiction.”
Judge Heaton then addressed whether the court had specific jurisdiction over this particular lawsuit due to its nature, acknowledging that this could be the case if the tort claims alleged that the defendants “purposefully directed” their activities at the state of Oklahoma. Again, Page’s lawsuit failed, the judge said.
“Plaintiff does not offer any facts which suggest that defendants’ alleged acts were purposefully directed at the State of Oklahoma or that their suit-related conduct had a substantial connection with Oklahoma. Rather, the complaint and plaintiff’s related submissions indicate the alleged conduct took place elsewhere,” the order said.
Page asserted that he has a business based in Oklahoma, but Judge Heaton found that to be irrelevant.
“[T]here is no plausible basis alleged for concluding that defendants alleged actions were somehow directed at that corporation or plaintiff’s interest in it, or that defendants even knew of its existence,” the judge wrote.
Page, who is not an attorney, chose to represent himself in the matter rather than hire a lawyer. He told Law&Crime that he intends to appeal the decision, stating, “there were key facts alleged in my pleadings which were not taken into account in today’s order and are directly relevant to personal jurisdiction.” Page referred to a letter he sent to the court in which he asserted that the defendants could “foresee [the dossier’s] possible use in
Oklahoma.” Page also claimed that if the court wanted, he could provide other evidence of ties to Oklahoma, “preferably under seal to
protect the integrity of ongoing law enforcement investigations.”
The court did not take him up on the offer, and was not convinced by Page’s letter.
Note: This article has been updated with Carter Page’s response.
Page Order on Scribd
[Image via Drew Angerer/Getty Images]