In his recent judgment dated 29 November 2016, in the case of Freestream Aircraft (Bermuda) Limited and Ittihadieh v Aero Law Group, US District Judge James Mahan of the United States District Court, District of Nevada, has struck out a defamation claim asserted by a Bermuda company against a Washington law firm, for lack of jurisdiction.
The Judge’s legal analysis is less interesting, from a Bermuda perspective, than the alleged facts, which the Judge described as follows:
“Plaintiff Freestream Aircraft (Bermuda) Limited (“Freestream”) is a Bermuda corporation and its founder, plaintiff Ittihadieh, is a citizen of the United Kingdom, residing in Switzerland. (ECF No. 1 at 4). Freestream is an aircraft company that services clients in all aspects relating to aircrafts, including brokerages, sales, designs, and maintenance. (ECF No. 1).
Defendant Aero Law Group is a Washington professional corporation. (ECF No. 1 at 4). Defendant Schmidt is a partner at Aero Law Group and a resident of Washington. (ECF No. 1 at 4). Aero Law Group is a law firm with offices in Washington. (ECF No. 24 at 1).
Plaintiffs allege that since 2014, defendants have been attacking Freestream’s reputation by making false statements that the back-to-back transaction structure it employs is illegal and unethical. (ECF No. 1). Plaintiffs further allege that defendants have been falsely asserting that Freestream solely uses the back-to-back transaction structure in its business. (ECF No. 1). Plaintiffs assert that these false statements have harmed their business practices and profits. (ECF No. 1).
On June 3, 2016, plaintiffs filed the underlying complaint alleging four causes of action: (1) defamation per se; (2) defamation; (3) business disparagement; and (4) tortious interference with prospective business advantage. (ECF No. 1)….
… Specifically, plaintiffs allege that on November 18, 2015, at a trade show in Las Vegas, defendants made defamatory statements to Masha Shvetsova, an agent for potential buyers of a jet, and Marwan Khalek, the CEO of Gama Aviation, repeatedly linking Freestream to “illegal and unethical business behavior” related to the use of back-to-back transactions. (ECF No. 35 at 8-9).”
The unusual and intriguing facts of this case appear to have some of the ingredients necessary for a John Grisham novel.