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Oakley, Inc., et al v. Sean Mcwilliams et al

September 16, 2011

OAKLEY, INC., ET AL., PLAINTIFF,
v.
SEAN MCWILLIAMS ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dean D. Pregerson United States District Judge

O

NO JS-6

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT RE: DEFENDANT'S COUNTERCLAIMS [Motions filed on July 28, 2011]

Presently before the court is Oakley, Inc. and James Jannard's (together "Plaintiffs"'s) Motion for Summary Judgment as to First Cause of Action for Libel and Motion for Summary Judgment as Re: Defendant's Counterclaims. Sean McWilliams ("Defendant") opposes both motions. After reviewing the papers submitted by the parties and considering the arguments therein, the court GRANTS Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment as to First Cause of Action for Libel and Motion for Summary Judgment as Re: Defendant's Counterclaims.

I. Background

Prior to 2006, Sean McWilliams ("McWilliams") worked as a consultant for Oliver Peoples, a sunglasses company. (Complaint ¶ 8.) As a consultant, McWilliams provided Oliver Peoples with various product samples. (Plaintiff's Points & Auth. in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment, 1.) In 2006, Oakley, Inc. ("Oakley") acquired the company Oliver Peoples. (Baden Decl. ¶ 3.) At that time, Oakley and its founder James Jannard ("Jannard") had no knowledge or awareness of McWilliams. (Baden Decl. ¶ 4; Jannard Decl. ¶¶ 7-8.) Soon after the acquisition of Oliver Peoples by Oakley, personnel from Oliver Peoples began receiving harassing emails from McWilliams, some of which alleged McWilliams had sexual relations with an employee of Oliver Peoples. (Gray Decl. ¶3.) McWilliams does not dispute that he sent these emails. (See Answer ¶ 13.)

For a short period of time McWilliams ceased sending emails to Oliver Peoples and Oakley staff. In June 2007, McWilliams became aware of a proposed acquisition of Oakley by Luxottica Group S.p.A ("Luxottica"), and resumed sending harassing emails to Oakley, Oliver Peoples, Luxottica, and other third parties. (See Jannard Decl. ¶¶ 6-8; Gray Decl. ¶ 4.) McWilliams admits to sending these emails. (See Answer ¶¶ 13, 14, 22.)

The emails contained harassing statements; pornographic images of McWilliams, which he claims were generated by Jannard and Oakley; statements attacking the character of Jannard and Oakley; and accusations that Jannard and Oakley were involved in price fixing, misleading investors, issuing death threats, and a cover up. (Answer, Exs. 53-61.) Specifically, McWilliams accused Oakley of sponsoring charity fraud, being part of a price fixing cartel, and of hiring "Blackwater" thugs to intimidate him. (Answer ¶¶ 14-16). McWilliams accused Jannard of being "criminal," and of marital infidelity. (Answer Exs. 114, 125-127.) In his answer, "McWilliams admits documenting pornographic images in only a handful of emails with law enforcement agencies, including the DOJ . . . ." (Answer ¶ 22.) In at least one instance, Plaintiffs claim that McWilliams posed as Jannard, who then supposedly made death threats to the President of the United States while impersonating McWilliams. (Answer Exs. 73-75.)

The emails were sent to Jannard's employees, associates, business partners, and industry personnel. (Jannard Decl. ¶¶ 8, 12, 23.) McWilliams also states that he sent emails to "third parties, including the Justice Department, (FBI), State Dept., etc." (Answer ¶¶ 14, 22.) Plaintiffs contend that McWilliams has used more than 22 email addresses presenting himself as Jannard, Oakley, Oliver Peoples or Luxottica. (Nelson Decl. Ex. 16.) Several third party recipients have requested McWilliams stop sending emails due to "clogged inboxes." (Pl. Points & Auth. in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment, ¶ 15.)

Both Jannard and Oakley claim that these emails have tarnished their reputation, caused serious embarrassment, and are not true. (Complaint ¶ 14.) McWilliams "admits to sending emails [] to plaintiffs and third parties," but he "denies said emails contained untruthful allegations, harassing statements and otherwise discriminatory, racist and hateful communications." (Answer ¶ 22.)

In October 2009, Plaintiffs filed the present suit against Defendant with claims for slander, libel, fraud, publication of facts placing in false light, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. (Dkt. No. 1.) Defendant filed an answer and counterclaim, in which he alleged intentional infliction of emotional distress. (Dkt. No. 23.) Plaintiffs now move for summary judgment on their complaint as well as Defendant's counterclaim.

II. Legal Standards

A. Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate where "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and ...


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