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Courthouse News Service
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Muslim Group’s Intern Faces Trespass Trial

WASHINGTON (CN) - A Muslim-American group accusing its former intern of stealing records for a book can bring trespass claims to a jury, a federal judge ruled.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) filed its complaint in October 2009 just weeks after Paul David Gaubatz published his book, "Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That's Conspiring to Islamize America."

CAIR said Gaubatz obtained information for his book by having his son, Chris Gaubatz use an assumed name, to obtain an internship with it the year before.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly dismissed some of CAIR's claims in 2012, however, and sided with the defendants on various issues again last year.

With the Gaubatzes having renewed their motion for summary judgment, Kollar-Kotelly found Friday that the intern alone must face a trespass claim.

Both he and his father are not liable, however, for conversion, breach of fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment, fraud or misappropriation of trade secrets, the ruling states.

Kollar-Kotelly said the trespass claim survives by virtue of her refusal to reconsider the previous order denying Chris summary judgment on the claims that he violated both D.C. and the U.S. government's wiretap laws, as well as the federal Stored Communications Act.

Gaubatz and the other defendants cannot be charged with conversion because the physical documents that Chris removed were returned to CAIR during the course of its lawsuit, according to the ruling.

Kollar-Kotelly sided with the Gaubatzes that CAIR failed to show any actual loss as a result of being deprived of the documents. "The mere fact of deprivation" does not support damages, she wrote.

CAIR's fiduciary and fraud claims fail meanwhile because CAIR again failed to form a basis for actual damages those wrongs caused, the court found.

As for unjust enrichment and misappropriation of trade secrets, the judge said CAIR failed to prove that the Gaubatzes gained any benefit subject to such a claim, or that the documents included any trade secrets.

In trying to evade wiretap liability, the defendants argued that all the conversations in question fell under the one-party consent rule, which allows a conversation to be recorded as long as one of the parties is aware of the recording.

CAIR argues that Gaubatz was not party to some of the conversations he recorded.

An order the judge filed Friday lays out the claims still remaining against the Gaubatzes, the Center for Security Policy Inc., CSP employee Christine Brim, the Society of Americans for National Existence, and SANE president David Yerushalmi.

In dismissing from the action Adam Savit and Sarah Pavlis, two CSP employees who had been named as defendants, the court notes that all the claims against them failed.

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