Pyankovska v. Abid

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Law
  • Date Filed: 04-18-2023
  • Case #: 20-16294
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Murguia, C.J., for the court; Parker, C.J.; & Lee, C.J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Where defendants’ violate the Federal Wiretap Act, Noerr-Pennington will protect petitioner’s First Amendment rights when the lawsuit in question burdened the individual’s rights as petitioner; it will not act as a carte blanche to violate statutes relevant to the lawsuit in question

During a custody battle, Abid taped conversations between plaintiff and the child without plaintiff’s knowledge. The recordings were admitted in the custody proceeding. Plaintiff appealed the admission of evidence at the Nevada Supreme Court and defendants prevailed. Plaintiff then filed suit in the District of Nevada against, Abid, and his attorney, Jones, for violation of the Federal Wiretap Act. Defendants moved to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). The court determined Abid's attorney, Jones, was protected under the Noerr-Pennington doctrine. The court found against Abid on all of plaintiff’s claims. The court awarded plaintiff $10,000 in statutory damages. Plaintiff appealed the grant of a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss against Jones and the denial to amend its judgement on plaintiff’s award of damages against Abid. The Federal Wiretap Act makes it unlawful to use evidence derived from illegally intercepted communication, unless an exception is met. Noerr-Pennington safeguards First Amendment rights by providing immunity from liability to individuals petitioning, "for a redress of a grievances." U.S. Const. amend. I. Petitioners must show the lawsuit in question imposed a burden on their rights as a petitioner. Jones could not prove a "burden" existed because Jones did not have a right to use the transcripts immunity the consequences of violating the Wiretap Act cannot be considered a "burden." Abid's interception was a violation of the Act and Jones illegally disclosed the communications. 18 U.S.C. § 2511(1)(c)–(d). Regarding damages, plaintiff argued the statutory damage award was $70,700, not $10,000 because Abid violated the Act over 707 days. The Court held that the district court had discretion to award punitive but did not provide sufficient clarity regarding appropriateness of damages. Finally, plaintiff’s punitive and state common law damages claims should have been addressed by the district court. VACATED and REMANDED.

Advanced Search

Back to Top