International law firm Perkins Coie and a half dozen additional defendants sued by former President Donald Trump in the eight-figures in the Southern District of Florida, filed a flurry of motions to dismiss the lawsuit in which they each shared a commonality. They adopted and incorporated the arguments in former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s motion to dismiss, which was the first motion to dismiss to hit the federal docket.
Bruce Rogow, founding professor at Nova Southeastern University Law Center and a political law expert, complimented the defendants who joined in Clinton’s motion, which he said demonstrated a classic example of “straight-to-the-point” good legal writing.
“The statute-of-limitations arguments were obvious from a reading of the complaint, and the motion to dismiss made them, and the failure to state a claim points, with just the right amount of sarcasm and sycophancy, citing a few of Judge Middlebrooks’ own decisions,” Rogow wrote in an email.
Trump’s attorneys, Alina Habba, managing partner of Habba Madaio and Associates in New Jersey, and Peter Ticktin, partner at the Ticktin Law Group in Fort Lauderdale, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Rogow, known as a conservative-leaning attorney, added that the defendants who joined in the relief sought by Clinton exhibited “good judgment and good lawyering.”
These defendants include Fusion GPS, co-founder Glenn Simpson, company partner Peter Fritsch and Nellie Ohr, a contractor, who were allegedly behind the infamous “Steele dossier”; along with the Democratic National Convention and its then chairperson, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
In addition, the other defendants include Perkins Coie, in its capacity as a law firm; former partners at Perkins Coie’s Washington, D.C., office, Marc Elias, who was serving as general counsel to the Clinton campaign and Michael Sussmann, over his interaction with the Federal Bureau of Information; Clinton’s presidential campaign manager Robert E. Mook and chairperson John Podesta, who filed his motion to dismiss a week earlier.
“No need to be redundant, but some small need to speak individually for each of the well-known other defendants,” Rogow said. “No one exceeded the page limits for their motions, a fact that Judge Middlebrooks (or any judge) would appreciate.”
U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks, who sits in the Southern District of Florida, presides over the lawsuit Trump filed in March against nearly 50 people and entities. Trump accused the defendants of conspiring to undermine his 2016 presidential campaign by falsely tying him to Russia. Trump is seeking to recover more than $72 million in damages—an amount that is triple the $24 million in legal fees he claimed to incur.
But in their motions to dismiss, the defendants argued that the counts that Trump is suing under, such as the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act violations, state law conspiracy claims and injurious falsehood, are barred by the statute of limitations—as the Daily Business Review predicted.
Sussmann, who in a separate case that goes to trial on Monday in a federal court in Washington over allegations cited in the lawsuit, and those who penned the six additional motions to dismiss with prejudice, added that Trump’s “vague and conclusory allegations” are insufficient to sustain his pleading burden as to any such claim.
Those on the bench must assume the truth of the allegations in a civil complaint when faced with a motion to dismiss, according to federal law. Complaints can only be dismissed if the plaintiff failed to assert a claim that the law recognizes as valid even if all the facts are correct.
Now, Middlebrooks will have to rule on these motions to dismiss, and likely several dozen more that will hit the federal docket following the same litigation strategy, said Kendall Coffey, a partner at Coffey Burlington in Miami.
“Here, the goal was for the alliance parties to stay on message and lead with the one theory or the one argument of the statute of limitations that could deliver the early knockout punch,” said Coffey, who is not involved in the lawsuit.
Read Sussmann’s motion to dismiss:
Both Coffey and Rogow agreed that Middlebrooks might not provide Trump with the victory he is seeking in federal court because the former president’s attorneys won’t be able to amend the calendar to retroactively file the lawsuit earlier, to overcome the statute of limitations expiration.
“Will the plaintiff seek leave to amend, which is a usual effort when a complaint is dismissed?” Rogow asked. “Probably, but the statute of limitations will kill that ploy, and such a motion will be denied.”