An update on a different lawsuit they’re involved in.
A disgruntled supporter of the True the Vote campaign to find voter fraud in the 2020 election preserved a claim on appeal, at least temporarily, against the organization’s law firm.
While True the Vote founder Catherine Engelbrecht remains in custody for contempt in a separate lawsuit, the Fourteenth Court of Appeals delivered its opinion in Eshelman v. True the Vote.
In this case, North Carolina millionaire Fredric N. Eshelman donated $2.5 million to Engelbrecht’s organization on the understanding the funds would support investigations, the production of whistleblowers and litigation concerning voter fraud in the 2020 election, according to court filings.
After True the Vote identified no whistleblowers and the four lawsuits in four states were filed without substantial evidence and then voluntarily dismissed, Eshelman demanded his money back.
The donor brought suit against all parties who received some of the funds, including True the Vote partner OPSEC Group, headed by Gregg Phillips, and the nonprofit’s general counsel, The Bopp Law Firm of Terre Haute, Indiana, and attorney James Bopp Jr.
The Bopp Law Firm‘s marketing material show it has played a role in GOP-led campaigns to stir doubt about the 2020 election, and about election administration integrity in general.
At trial court in Travis County, Engelbrecht and most of the defendants asserted Eshelman lacked standing. Their responses claimed the alleged oral agreement of the gift being conditioned on certain acts never occurred, and Eshelman couldn’t sue over a contribution to a charitable organization and its operations.
“These assertions were supported by Catherine Engelbrecht’s declaration that ‘there was no discussion or suggestion of any sort between Mr. Eshelman and myself, or his agents … and myself, that Eshelman’s gift was conditional in any way,’” the Fourteenth Court noted in its opinion.
Because those parties produced evidence that there were no conditions on Eshelman’s donation, the burden shifted to Eshelman and he failed to support his allegation with any evidence, the appeals court said.
The trial court dismissed Eshelman’s claims against all defendants, and the appeals court affirmed that decision in part.
Circumstances with the Bopp Law Firm and James Bopp were different, though, since they only challenged Eshelman’s pleading, not his allegation of a conditional use.
“This is a crucial distinction, because if the movant produces no controverting evidence, we assume the plaintiff’s factual allegations are true,” the appeals court found.
Eshelman’s causes of action against the Bopp defendants are for conversion, declaratory relief, and for money had and received.
“Eshelman has standing to assert his private interest in enforcing his agreed-upon right to recover damages for breach of the parties’ oral agreement,” the Fourteenth Court concluded.
See here for the background. This is actually a bit of good news for True the Vote, which could use it while Engelbrecht and Phillips sit in the pokey. I don’t know why attorney Bopp and his firm didn’t make the same arguments that succeeded for the other defendants – if that is spelled out in the opinion then please forgive me as I didn’t read it because it was too technical and my eyes glazed over – but I assume he can do so at trial. This is one of those situations where you root for everyone to lose, but you can’t always get what you want.
Meanwhile, the end of the story included this bit of information regarding our TTV protagonists:
Company founder Eugene Yu alleged that people working with True the Vote took possession of Konnech data concerning the identities of poll workers throughout the United States, that they are “engaged in an attack against Konnech,” claiming the company and its president are Chinese operatives working for the Chinese Communist Party to interfere with U.S. elections.
In a preliminary injunction order signed Monday by U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt of the Southern District of Texas, the court recognized Yu and his family have been personally threatened, and statements of intent by True the Vote to release confidential data would destroy public trust in government entities and trust between those entities and Konnech.
The defendants were enjoined from making any use of data in their possession and ordered to return it.
This was happening on the same day that Engelbrecht and Phillips were tossed in jail for contempt of court. I’d like to specify exactly what they were ordered to do and not to do, as taken from the linked opinion:
Therefore, it is ORDERED that a preliminary Injunction issues, ENJOINING the defendants, their agents and assigns:
(i) from accessing or attempting to access Konnech’s protected computers;
(ii) from using, disclosing, or exploiting the property and data downloaded from Konnech’s protected computers; and further, they are;
(iii) ordered to identify each individual and/or organization involved in accessing Konnech’s protected computers;
(iv) ordered to return to Konnech all property and data obtained from Konnech’s protected computers, whether original, duplicated, computerized, handwritten, or any other form, whatsoever obtained from any source;
(v) ordered to preserve, and not to delete, destroy, conceal or otherwise alter, any files or other data obtained from Konnech’s protected computers;
(vi) ordered to confidentially disclose to Konnech how, when, and by whom Konnech’s protected computers were accessed; and
(vii) ordered to identify all persons and/or entities, in defendants’ knowledge, who have had possession, custody or control of any information or data from Konnech’s protected computers.
Yeah, that doesn’t look good for our, um, heroes. Maybe the longer they sit in their cells, the longer they can put off the seemingly inevitable butt-kicking that awaits them at the end of these proceedings. Doesn’t seem like a great plan, but it may be the best they can do. Poor babies.