ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) – A married couple sued The New Yorker and the Greenberg Traurig law office, claiming they participated in an illegal search and seizure of their home and violated the U.S. mail. They say New Yorker reporter Larissa MacFarquhar should not have been allowed to roam around the house with the attorneys, who had been hired by defendant Diane von Furstenberg Studio for a trademark complaint.
The couple says one attorney flashed a badge and claimed to be a law enforcement officer while the attorneys and police seized property unrelated to von Furstenberg’s complaint against them.
According to the federal complaint, Diane von Furstenberg Studio sued plaintiff Catherine Snyder, in a sealed complaint, alleging Snyder was selling bogus Diane von Furstenberg items on the Internet. Plaintiff Richard Snyder was not named in that complaint.
The Snyders claim that Herndon police, accompanied by Greenberg Traurig attorneys, searched their home in the early morning of Dec. 8, 2006, accompanied by MacFarquhar.
The Snyders also sued MacFarquhar and the three Greenberg Traurig attorneys as individuals. They claim MacFarquhar was writing a story for the New Yorker about defendant attorney Harley Lewin’s trademark work.
The Snyders claim that defendant Stephen Wadyka, “a private attorney, upon introducing himself to Mr. Snyder, flashed a badge and stated that he was a U.S. law enforcement official.”
The Snyders claim that in addition to seizing stuff authorized by warrant, the “Law Defendants, acting on behalf of DvF, removed a large number of other items which they were not authorized to remove and which were self-evidently not within the scope of the warrant.” The items allegedly included “the Snyders’ marriage certificate, their son’s Social Security cards, mortgage settlement documents, Mrs. Snyder’s life insurance policy, credit cards, tax returns, a report card from one of heir sons, a vehicle registration renewal form, access codes for Web site and the Snyders’ voicemail box,” and other stuff.
“Law Defendants removed from Plaintiffs’ home unopened U.S. mail which they were not authorized by the warrant to remove. This mail included some mail addressed to each plaintiff individually. Law Defendants opened this mail without authorization in violation of law and postal regulations,” the complaint states.
The Snyders demand punitive damages for trespass, abuse of process, violation of the mail, conversion and other charges. They are represented by Kenneth Cuccinelli II of Fairfax, Va.