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Giuffre v. Edwards

Florida Court of Appeals, Fourth District

August 30, 2017

VIRGINIA GIUFFRE, Appellant,
v.
BRADLEY J. EDWARDS, PAUL G. CASSELL, and ALAN DERSHOWITZ, Appellees.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Broward County; Thomas Lynch, Judge; L.T. Case No. 15-000072 CACE (05).

          Sigrid S. McCawley of Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, Fort Lauderdale, and Jon L. Mills, Miami, for appellant.

          Bruce S. Rogow and Tara A. Campion of Bruce S. Rogow, P.A., Fort Lauderdale; and Richard A. Simpson of Wiley Rein LLP, Washington, D.C., for appellee Alan Dershowitz.

          ClKLIN, J.

         Virginia Giuffre, a nonparty below, appeals an order granting defendant Alan Dershowitz's motion to strike her various motions for sanctions. The order on appeal was entered following a voluntary dismissal of the case. In the order, the trial court held that it lacked jurisdiction to consider Giuffre's previously filed motions for sanctions because the matter had been voluntarily dismissed and further that Giuffre lacked standing to file the motions for sanctions to begin with. We agree with Giuffre's contention that the trial court erred in determining that it lacked jurisdiction to entertain the sanctions motions. We affirm, however, the trial court's correct conclusion that Giuffre lacked standing.

         This appeal arises from a defamation action. In an action prior to the defamation action, Attorneys Edwards and Cassell represented Giuffre, and Dershowitz represented Jeffrey Epstein. In the action below, Giuffre's attorneys asserted a defamation claim against Dershowitz based on statements Dershowitz made in the prior action. Dershowitz asserted a counterclaim for defamation based on the attorneys' statements in the prior action that Dershowitz personally perpetrated criminal acts against Giuffre.

         Giuffre's participation in discovery was compelled in the defamation action insofar as Dershowitz issued a subpoena for her deposition. As an apparent consequence, Giuffre's counsel was present for some proceedings in the defamation action, including Dershowitz's deposition. At his deposition, Dershowitz sought to reveal communications between himself and Attorney Boies, who also represented Giuffre. Giuffre objected multiple times and contended those were confidential settlement communications. Giuffre and Dershowitz agreed to raise the issue with the trial court.

         Dershowitz then moved in limine to overrule Giuffre's objections, contending the contested communications were not settlement communications. To his motion, he attached an affidavit outlining his meetings and conversations with Boies.

         The same day that the motion in limine was filed, Giuffre filed an emergency motion to seal the affidavit, alleging that the statements therein were confidential settlement negotiations and alleging that Dershowitz was aware of Giuffre's ongoing objection to the revelation of the communications at issue. Shortly thereafter, The New York Times published an article that included some of the contents of the affidavit. Thereupon, Giuffre moved to strike the affidavit and Dershowitz's pleadings and moved to impose sanctions against Dershowitz.

         At a hearing on the motion, the trial court granted the emergency motion to seal the affidavit, but reserved ruling on the motion for sanctions against Dershowitz (and on the underlying motion in limine).

         Dershowitz's deposition continued approximately one month later, at which point he gave testimony that, according to Giuffre's allegations, again described confidential settlement negotiations with Giuffre's counsel. Giuffre's counsel at the deposition objected and then filed a supplemental motion to strike and for further sanctions based on the deposition testimony, alleging that Dershowitz violated the order sealing the affidavit. Dershowitz moved to strike Giuffre's sanctions motions.

         Thereafter, the parties to the lawsuit filed a stipulation of dismissal with prejudice. At the hearing on Dershowitz's motion to strike, he contended the court was divested of jurisdiction when the parties filed the stipulation of dismissal, and, regardless, Giuffre was a nonparty and lacked standing in the proceedings. The trial court agreed and entered an order concluding, "Even if defendant Dershowitz willfully violated this Court's order, the Court has no jurisdiction to consider the motion for sanctions, and further, [Giuffre] lacks standing in this case."

         The Trial Court's ...


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