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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Counsel in Kiddie Camp Dispute Staying Put

WASHINGTON (CN) - A D.C. law firm can continue to represent the son of one of its partners in a business dispute involving youth athletic summer camp programs, a federal judge ruled.

Founded by Brendan Sullivan III, Headfirst Baseball and Headfirst Camps provide athletic summer camp programs for several thousand children. Their affiliate, Headfirst Professional Sports Camps, is "the official provider of summer [youth] camps for the Washington Nationals, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees in the District of Columbia, Boston, Chicago, and New York Metropolitan areas," according to court filings.

Sullivan and his companies filed a federal complaint against former second-in-command Robert Elwood and his wife, Stacey, alleging that they misappropriated hundreds of thousands of dollars from the companies over several years.

In a counterclaim, Robert Elwood alleging that the Headfirst companies denied him participation in the companies he helped develop.

Sullivan is represented by the firm Williams & Connolly, a firm where his father, Brendan Sullivan Jr., is a partner.

Noting that both Elwood and Sullivan have sought legal advice from Williams & Connolly in the past, the Elwoods sought to disqualify the D.C. law firm as the plaintiffs' counsel.

Venable, attorneys for the Elwoods, told the court that its clients undoubtedly provided confidential information to Williams & Connolly, giving the defendants an unclear advantage.

Finding that material issues of fact remain to be resolved, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton denied the motion without prejudice Friday.

"The scant nature of the existing factual record does not square with the high burden the defendants must satisfy to disqualify the plaintiffs' counsel of choice," Walton wrote. "While discovery and further development of the facts in this case might ultimately support a finding of a Rule 1.7 violation, the defendants may not rely on that Rule as a basis for disqualifying Williams & Connolly as plaintiffs' counsel in this case at this time."

Headfirst and Sullivan sought to file a second amended complaint to include a claim under the Stored Communications Act, alleging that Elwood guessed the password to a Google account owned by the plaintiff companies and subsequently changed the password and the alternate email address.

Walton granted the motion, rejecting the Elwoods' claims that the proposed claim does not concern a stored electronic communication.

"Even if the defendants are correct that the plaintiffs have not adequately pleaded the existence of a stored communication, at least one other federal court has suggested that the Stored Communications Act 'does not require that there be a 'communication' at all' in order for the unauthorized access to information to constitute a violation of the Act,'" Walton wrote.

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