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Boddy v. Pourciau

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

May 3, 2019

KYLE BODDY, et al., Plaintiffs,
BRENT POURCIAU, et al. Defendants.


          JAMES L. ROBART United States District Judge


         Before the court is Defendants Brent Pourciau and Top Velocity, LLC's (“Top Velocity”) (collectively, “Defendants”) motion for leave to file a third-party complaint against Aiden Ward. (Mot. (Dkt. # 28-1).) Plaintiffs Kyle Boddy and Driveline Baseball Enterprises, LLC (“Driveline”) (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) oppose the motion. (Resp. (Dkt. # 29).) The court has considered the motion, the parties' submissions concerning the motion, the relevant portions of the record, and the applicable law. Being fully advised, [1] the court DENIES Defendants' motion for leave to file a third-party complaint.


         This case involves allegations of libel, false light, and unfair competition. (See generally SAC (Dkt. # 10).) The court detailed this case's factual and procedural background in its prior order. (See Order (Dkt. # 19) at 2-7.) In this order, the court recounts only the salient facts and procedure.

         A. Statements at Issue

         Mr. Ward is a baseball player who trained at Driveline. (Peterson Decl. (Dkt. # 30) ¶ 4, Ex. B (“Ward Aff.”) at 1.) Mr. Ward attests that, in October 2017, he was following a Twitter debate between Plaintiffs and Mr. Pourciau. (Id.) Hoping to “rile up [Mr. Pourciau], ” Mr. Ward fabricated a text message exchange between himself and Mr. Boddy and sent it to Mr. Pourciau in an anonymous private Twitter message. (Id.; see also Id. Ex. A.) Mr. Ward fabricated the text messages to make it appear like Mr. Boddy was encouraging Mr. Ward to use performance enhancing drugs (“PEDs”). (Ward Aff. at 1; see also Ward Aff. at 1, Ex. A.) Mr. Ward told Mr. Pourciau that he was a former Driveline client and claimed that 45% of college athletes training with Driveline were using PEDs. (Ward Aff. at 1; Ex. A.) Mr. Ward believed that the messages made “outlandish and obviously false claims about Driveline and steroid use.” (Id.) Mr. Ward further told Mr. Pourciau that he “can never distribute” the information that Mr. Ward anonymously provided. (Id.) Still concerned that Mr. Pourciau believed that the fabricated information was true, Mr. Ward reached out to Mr. Pourciau again to tell him that “it was all just a joke.” (Id. at 1-2.)

         Plaintiffs allege that, on or about November 8, 2017, Mr. Pourciau created a Twitter account entitled “Chris C” from which he publicly posted “there is a lot you guys don't know about [Driveline] that needs to be exposed.” (SAC ¶¶ 11-12.) The post included a screenshot of the private messages between Mr. Ward and Mr. Pourciau as well as the fabricated text message exchange Mr. Ward provided to Mr. Pourciau. (Id.) Mr. Pourciau publicly reposted the Chris C tweet from his personal Twitter account later that night, adding his own comment. (Id. ¶ 14.) At the time, it was unknown that Mr. Pourciau controlled the Chris C account. (Id. ¶ 20.) On November 28, 2017, Mr. Pourciau again replied to the original Chris C tweet, providing a link to the private message screenshots and saying, “I am blown about by the sh[**] that comes from DL. Coaches that blantanly [sic] lie about WB studies and recent rumor of PED.” (Id. ¶ 14, Ex. B at 3.)

         B. Lawsuit

         On November 9, 2017, one day after the initial tweet from the Chris C account, Plaintiffs filed a libel claim in King County Superior Court against John Does, intending to amend the complaint when they discovered who was responsible for the Chris C tweet. (See Id. ¶ 20; Compl. (Dkt. # 8-1) at 4.) Plaintiffs then initiated an investigation into the source of the messages. (SAC ¶ 22.) The investigation revealed that Mr. Pourciau had created the Chris C account. (Id. ¶¶ 23, 26.) Plaintiffs amended their complaint, identifying Mr. Pourciau and Top Velocity as defendants and adding a claim for unfair competition. (Id. ¶ 27; see also FAC (Dkt. # 1-1) ¶¶ 1, 4, 32-36.)[2]

         Defendants-both Louisiana citizens-removed this matter to federal court. (See Not. of Rem. (Dkt. # 1) at 3.) Defendants then moved to dismiss or transfer this case claiming that, among other things, they did not purposefully avail themselves of the state of Washington such that a Washington court could exercise personal jurisdiction over them. (See generally MTD (Dkt. # 8).) The court denied the motion without prejudice and granted Plaintiffs 90 days to conduct jurisdictional discovery because the court lacked sufficient facts to determine if it had personal jurisdiction over Defendants. (See generally Order.) Neither party has challenged personal jurisdiction since the 90-day jurisdictional discovery period expired. (See Dkt.)

         C. Aiden Ward

         After this litigation began, Driveline emailed several current and former trainees that it identified as potential witnesses, including Mr. Ward. (Peterson Decl. ¶ 2, Ex. A.) Upon receiving the email, Mr. Ward contacted Driveline. (Ward Aff. at 2). On October 12, 2018, Mr. Ward provided an affidavit attesting that he had contacted Mr. Pourciau anonymously from an old Twitter account to “rile up Brent [Pourciau] by sending him Twitter messages suggesting that [Mr. Ward] had knowledge of steroid use at Driveline.” (Id. at 1.) Mr. Ward admitted to falsifying the text message conversation with Mr. Boddy and further admitted that the PED allegations were false. (Id. at 1-2.) Plaintiffs disclosed this affidavit to Defendants on October 12, 2018. (Resp. at 2 (citing Peterson Decl. ¶ 4).)

         D. ...

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