Former Government Official Suing Snowden And Others For Billions Of Dollars Adds The United States As An Involuntary Plaintiff

from the JOHN-and-JANE-DOES-1-316,000,000 dept

Remember when former Kansas Secretary of Transportation Horace Edwards filed a multi-billion dollar lawsuit against Edward Snowden, Laura Poitras and others connected to the CitizenFour documentary “on behalf of the American people?” And remember when plenty of American people said, “STFU Edwards, you don’t speak for me?”

Well, suck it, dissenters. Horace Edwards has other plans for you.

Horace Edwards, the retired naval officer who last month sued the makers and distributors of Citizenfour, has filed an amended complaint that names the “United States of America” as a putative involuntary plaintiff.

That’s everyone. Of course, you need not lawyer up, because even though you are included under the plaintiff “United States of America” (and “John and Jane Does 1-10”), you won’t actually be involved. Your country’s name will be invoked, but you’ll have nothing to do with it. This will all be in the government’s hands, with “all” most likely being a motion to be removed from the plaintiff list.

As Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter point out, the government may invoke “sovereign immunity” to unhitch itself from Edwards’ crazy train. It’s worked before.

On the bright side, the government will be forced to offer some sort of input on this issue. It has remained mostly silent about Snowden’s ongoing freedom, even as leaked documents continue to be published. Its filing in response to Edwards’ amended complaint will hopefully give us a little insight into its current level of antipathy towards the former systems administrator. Of course, it could also limit its remarks to “This is ridiculous,” before asking the judge to press the “Unsubscribe” button.

There’s also the question of standing that still surrounds Edwards’ lawsuit. He appears to be trying to address that both with his addition of the USA to plaintiffs’ list, as well as other alterations to the body of the complaint. [pdf link]

Another sentence has been added to paragraph 29 in an attempt to shore up Edwards’ assertion that the Kansas District Court is the proper venue for this lawsuit. (Added sentence in bold.)

29. This Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1331, 28 U.S.C. § 1361, and 28 U.S. C. § 1332(a)(1). Defendants purposely availed themselves of the privilege of conducting business within this State and this district as well as committing wrongful, tortious acts causing harm to Plaintiff[s] herein.

There’s also this entirely new paragraph that very briefly lays out Edwards’ legal theory as to the USA’s “interest” in this case.

32. The United States of America, upon information and belief, has an interest in Count II as a Real Party In Interest under the federal common law theory of constructive trust.

This is followed 20+ paragraphs later by an all-new section [COUNT II (CONSTRUCTIVE TRUST FOR BREACH OF FIDUCIARY DUTY AS TO UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)] that is completely dedicated to the surprise appearance of an entire country as a potential plaintiff. It’s a shorter rehash of Count I that limits its allegations to what Snowden “did” directly to the US government, including the violation of sworn statements and contractual obligations, etc.

Now, Edwards doesn’t want CitizenFour censored or banned. He just wants every cent anyone makes from it dumped into a trust fund to “repay” the government for all the “damage” the leaks have caused, hopefully to the tune of a couple billion dollars. Oh, and to have CitizenFour declared ineligible for the Oscars.

Last month, Lamfers attempted to get the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to disqualify Citizenfour from Oscar consideration, citing a significant portion of the documentary appearing in a non-theatrical medium (The Guardian’s website) prior to the film’s theatrical release. After reviewing the situation, the Academy rejected it and deemed the film Oscar-eligible.

I guess one way to deal with disappointment is to add an entire country as an involuntary plaintiff.

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Comments on “Former Government Official Suing Snowden And Others For Billions Of Dollars Adds The United States As An Involuntary Plaintiff”

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Bt Garner (profile) says:

I just do not understand the logic here…bad things were done by the US Government. A private citizen blew the whistle on them, so now a person wants to sue the whistle blower to repay the US government the cost of cleaning up the mess, a mess that would not exist had the US Government not done anything bad in the first place. Have I got that right?

I do fully understand that logic is not the issue here; this is a lawsuit being made for more of an anti-liberal attack than anything else. But how blinded by your own ideals do you have to be to go to this length? Probably about as blind as the US Government was to its own misdeeds.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m going to sue Techdirt and attach the entire known universe as a involuntary plaintiff. Oh and God too.

While as a representative of the universe as a whole I object to the universe being included, as an Atheist, I lack standing to object on the inclusion of God.

However, I expect God, King of kings and Lord of hosts, to invoke Sovereign Immunity.

Good luck on your suit.

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