A businessman who unsuccessfully ran for president in 2020 and was sued by a woman who alleges he defamed her by hinting she might be involved in sex trafficking wants a judge to quash service of the suit, arguing a California court has no personal jurisdiction over him.
The plaintiff is identified only as Jane Doe in the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit brought against 41-year-old Brock Pierce, an entrepreneur known primarily for his work in the cryptocurrency industry. He ran as an independent candidate in the 2020 U.S. presidential election and is also a former child actor.
Doe is the co-founder and managing partner of a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending sex trafficking globally and has worked with various relief organizations addressing the issue while also appearing before the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, the suit states.
In court papers filed Friday with Judge Michael Linfield, Pierce’s attorneys say their client has lived in Puerto Rico since 2017 and intends to reside there indefinitely. The same lawyers also maintain he did not initiate the call to a third party in California that is the basis for the alleged defamatory statements, and that Pierce denies making the remarks.
“In short, California has nothing to do with this case, other than Doe claiming she is a California resident, which is insufficient to establish specific personal jurisdiction,” Pierce’s attorneys argue.
According to Doe’s suit filed Jan. 5, she was hired by Pierce and Percival Services LLC last August and resigned a month later. She had previously worked for Pierce on his presidential campaign in 2020, according to the suit, which does not state the nature of the positions she held or why she resigned from the company.
After Doe quit, Pierce “entered into a campaign to slander plaintiff’s good name, character and reputation,” the suit states.
Pierce contacted a third party foundation head and told her that Doe was fired because of her inability to perform her work with the 2020 presidential campaign and with Percival Services, and Pierce also called the plaintiff “litigious,” the suit states.
Pierce further told the third party that he had “heard a rumor that Doe was involved with a sex-trafficking ring for minors” and that he would not be at any conferences where the plaintiff also was attending, the suit states.
As a result, Doe allegedly was forced to remove her name from the nonprofit that she co-founded, as well as its website, to protect the organization’s image and reputation.
The allegedly false and defamatory statements “would tend to disparage plaintiff’s reputation in the community, excite derogatory opinions about her, hold her up to contempt and impute the quality of her personal and professional reputation,” the suit states.
But in a sworn declaration, Pierce identifies the third party as Christina Tobin and says the call took place in late September or early October while he was in Puerto Rico.
“As I recall, Ms. Tobin initiated the telephone call,” Pierce says. “I was not informed and do not know where Tobin was at the time of the call, which I believe occurred on her cell phone.”
Pierce further says he has no business contacts with California and that he was served with the suit while he was in Miami.
A hearing on Pierce’s motion is scheduled for April 17.
Doe continues to suffer irreparable injury to her professional and personal reputation and her opportunities for future employment and business relationships have been negatively impacted, according to the suit.