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Hillary Clinton's old campaign law firm uses China excuse to avoid Carter Page lawsuit

Perkins Coie's claim of "stateless" entity wins at federal appeals court level. Is Supreme Court next?

Updated: August 2, 2021 - 11:10pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The Perkins Coie law firm that helped Hillary Clinton's campaign fund the now-debunked Steele dossier is using a China excuse to avoid being sued for defamation by former Trump adviser Carter Page. And so far, it is working.

"Three Perkins Coie partners are 'stateless' U.S. citizens domiciled in China," the lawyers representing the firm and the Democratic National Committee argued in an appellate brief earlier this year. "That statelessness is imputed to Perkins Coie and forecloses the existence of complete diversity of citizenship in this case."

In a little noticed ruling in late June, the 7th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago accepted the Washington D.C.-based firm's claim that it was a "stateless" entity that can't be sued in federal court.

"In response to our concerns regarding subject matter jurisdiction, Perkins Coie submitted affidavits from three individual partners who are U.S. citizens domiciled in China: Yun (Louise) Lu, Scott Palmer, and James M. Zimmerman," the court noted.

"We adhere to this same reasoning and conclude that Perkins Coie (as a named defendant) takes on the stateless status of its individual partners Lu, Palmer, and Zimmerman," it added. "This attribution of statelessness destroys complete diversity and deprived the district court of the power to hear this case.

The appellate judges acknowledged the legal theory of federal court immunity for "stateless" entities was novel and based on laws created before the rise of multinational corporations and it may be ripe for review by the U.S. Supreme Court. 

"We acknowledge that in today's global business environment, where multinational entities exist in every facet of commerce, this result may strike some as impractical," the judges noted. "But keep in mind that when Congress enacted the Judiciary Act of 1789, and in the subsequent decades when the Supreme Court decided many of its significant diversity jurisdiction cases, most of today's business forms did not exist."

"The Supreme Court has not explicitly answered this question. But the Court has held both that a stateless citizen cannot be sued in diversity (see Newman-Green, 490 U.S. at 828–29) and that the citizenship of a partnership is based on the citizenship of each individual partner," the judges added.

Page told Just the News that he would continue to fight in the courts because he believes the Clinton-funded dossier amounted to improper foreign interference in the U.S. election. Steele is a British citizen and former MI6 operative.

"Reminiscent of the rigorous years of work by leaders on Capitol Hill and DOJ's Inspector General who originally uncovered the wrongdoing behind the Steele Dossier, this has remained a long road toward resolving perhaps the worst election interference and intelligence scandals in U.S. history," Page said.

"I greatly appreciate this latest rigorous analysis by one of the most respected federal appellate courts in America, as they cogently highlighted these serious unresolved questions of law," he added. "I will continue doing everything in my power to eventually achieve justice in this important matter."

Marc Elias, a partner for Perkins Coie, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.All three of the firm's partners cited in the brief either moved to China or joined the firm in 2018, long after the Steele dossier at the center of the lawsuit had been created and leaked to the media.

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