FOR THE RECORD
NRA Scores Win Against Winston & Strawn Over Failed Arbitration and Its Undisclosed Relationship with Arbitrator Who Sent Racist Communications
October 22, 2020 — The NRA today prevailed over Winston & Strawn’s bid to dismiss a lawsuit seeking damages relating to a failed arbitration. The arbitration failed, in part, due to an undisclosed relationship between a Winston partner and former disgraced JAMS arbitrator Hon. Richard Neville (Ret.).
The lawsuit, filed July 29, 2020, in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, alleges that in a recent arbitration, the NRA discovered on the eve of the final hearing that the arbitrator, Judge Neville, was conducting a secret email discussion group – participated in by a senior partner of opposing counsel, Winston – where lurid white nationalist propaganda was shared and promoted. The communications revealed that Judge Neville shared a close, undisclosed relationship with Winston Partner Terry Grimm, according to the NRA. The NRA brought the action to recover amounts expended during the corrupted arbitration proceeding, and to uncover facts about the extent of the bias that tainted the proceeding.
In an important opinion, dated October 21, 2020, Judge Robert R. Rigsby ruled that the NRA’s claim for unjust enrichment against Winston will proceed. Judge Rigsby writes, “…NRA points out that it ‘has made tens of thousands of dollars in payments to JAMS and incurred additional expenses in connection with the Arbitration,’ which will have to start again and ‘each of [Judge] Neville’s rulings will need to be reconsidered de novo’ and that its expenses for a flawed and incomplete arbitration should be returned.”
The Court concluded that the “NRA has sufficiently stated a claim for unjust enrichment against Defendant Winston” and that “[a]ccordingly, Count II of NRA’s complaint should not be dismissed.”
In recounting the allegations in the NRA’s complaint, Judge Rigsby writes about the material which Judge Neville and his “friends” were discussing, “The article posited notions of Black Americans’ racial inferiority and inability to integrate into American society as the underlying causes of intractable violence and poverty in Black American communities.” [The white nationalist “article” in question – circulated by Judge Neville – purported to originate from the Baltimore Sun but, in fact, originated from a noted hate group.]
“We appreciate the prompt attention of the Court – and look forward to bringing the facts regarding Winston & Strawn’s undisclosed relationship with Judge Neville into full public view,” says William A. Brewer III, partner at Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors and counsel to the NRA. “This is a disturbing record. There should be no place in the legal profession that tolerates such racist communications – or which turns a blind eye to the principles that govern the sanctity of the arbitration process.”
Unfortunately, the opinion also grants JAMS’s motion to dismiss – on grounds that the arbitration organization, which has decried Neville’s communications as racist, nonetheless benefits from arbitral immunity. The NRA will appeal.
“Our client believes that immunity should not apply in these circumstances,” Brewer says. “Companies such as JAMS are commercial enterprises which sell services based upon promises of integrity, consistency and neutrality. We believe that to allow these high-flying businesses to say one thing and then do another is bad for litigants and the profession as a whole.”
The NRA’s legal action has sparked a call for greater oversight, transparency, and accountability surrounding the actions of arbitrators. Crediting the NRA’s lawsuit, on September 8, 2020, the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA) called for a review of the records of all JAMS’ neutrals, the creation of a more rigorous initial vetting process of arbitrators, and enhanced hiring practices, among other needed industry reforms.
Reuters: NRA Wins Round vs. Winston & Strawn in Fight Sparked by Racist Email
October 23, 2020 — Reuters reports that the NRA can "seek tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees from Winston & Strawn, a judge has ruled, handing the NRA a partial win in a case sparked after a JAMS Inc. Arbitrator inadvertently forwarded an article railing against Black Americans to an outside lawyer for the gun owners' group."
The report notes that the NRA seeks to "recover fees from an arbitration proceeding in which Winston represented the NRA's adversary."
NRA Donor Case Loses Steam as Court Sides with Association, LaPierre on Virtually All Counts
September 30, 2020 — The highly publicized case by NRA member David Dell’Aquila against the NRA has suffered a significant blow — following a key decision from a Nashville court.
In a 17-page opinion (read the opinion), dated September 30, 2020, a Nashville judge dismissed all of plaintiff’s claims against Wayne LaPierre. The court also dismissed all of Mr. Dell’Aquila’s claims against the NRA Foundation.
Despite plaintiff’s legal filibustering and orchestrated media campaign, only one of his claims remains against the NRA — merely citing a representation that was made on the Association’s website.
In the weeks that followed the August 2019 lawsuit, NRA donors rallied behind the Association and its efforts to confront the misguided legal action.
Importantly, the court has not ruled against the NRA on any claim brought by Mr. Dell’Aquila. He is pursuing a class action – but no class has been certified and obtaining such standing will be a significant challenge.
The NRA looks forward to defeating the final remaining claim and bring the facts into full view.
The Association has full confidence in the work it does on behalf of its millions of loyal members, and will continue to defend their Second Amendment freedoms.
NRA Comments on NYAG Lawsuit – a “Baseless, Premeditated Attack” Driven by Political Ambition; Announces Legal Filing Against NYAG Letitia James
August 6, 2020 — The NRA commented today on a lawsuit announced by New York Attorney General Letitia James against the organization.
“This was a baseless, premeditated attack on our organization and the Second Amendment freedoms it fights to defend," said NRA President Carolyn Meadows. "You could have set your watch by it: the investigation was going to reach its crescendo as we move into the 2020 election cycle. It’s a transparent attempt to score political points and attack the leading voice in opposition to the leftist agenda. This has been a power grab by a political opportunist – a desperate move that is part of a rank political vendetta. Our members won’t be intimidated or bullied in their defense of political and constitutional freedom.”
William A. Brewer III, partner at Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors and counsel to the NRA, stated, “We will aggressively defend this organization and its members. The investigation reveals the NYAG has aligned herself with disgraced vendors and former partners who would support a contrived narrative for personal gain. The truth is, the transactions in question have been reviewed, vetted and approved – and every dollar spent by the NRA has been in furtherance of its mission to defend constitutional freedom. End of story.”
The NRA today filed a lawsuit against James – confronting her partisan investigation. Filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York, the lawsuit notes that, under the guise of protecting New Yorkers and enforcing state nonprofit law, the NYAG has weaponized its regulatory and legal powers to harm a political adversary.
James famously vowed to "target the NRA" and "investigate the legitimacy of the NRA as a charitable organization" while on the campaign trail in July 2018 – before spending even one day in office and without any evidence of wrongdoing.
“As evidenced by the lawsuit filed by the NRA today against the NYAG, we not only will not shrink from this fight – we will confront it and prevail,” said Meadows.
NRA Seeks Declaratory Judgment that It can Proceed with Disciplinary Proceeding
July 1, 2020 — The NRA announced today that it filed a complaint in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Albany. The NRA seeks a declaratory judgment that it can proceed with a disciplinary proceeding, as contemplated under the NRA's Bylaws, that would determine whether Lt. Col. Oliver North should be expelled from NRA membership.
The disciplinary proceeding was commenced on August 5, 2019, when another Board member filed a complaint against North seeking North’s expulsion from the NRA on the grounds that North acted contrary to and in violation of the NRA’s Bylaws, engaged in conduct that was disruptive of the orderly operation of the NRA in pursuit of its goals, and violated his obligation of loyalty to the NRA and the NRA’s objectives.
In addition, the NRA seeks a declaratory judgment that by failing, in June 2019, to end his employment at Ackerman McQueen – a related party transaction – he forfeited his NRA Board membership.
NRA Seeks Reversal of Court Ruling that Allows for Secret Review of Documents by New York Attorney General; Famed Civil Procedure Expert Warns of “Wrong, Dangerous” Decision That Limits Protection of Confidential Information
May 18, 2020 — Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors announced today that its client, the NRA, seeks to reargue a court ruling that limits the Association’s ability to protect its confidential and privileged information provided to the New York Attorney General (“NYAG”) by the Association’s longtime fiduciary, Ackerman McQueen, Inc. (“AMc”). The NRA is joined by famed civil procedure expert and NYU Law School Professor Arthur R. Miller in its efforts to overturn the court’s decision that denies the NRA such protections.
NRA Files Lawsuit Against State of New York, Seeks Gun Stores to be Designated “Essential” in Wake of Shutdown
April 2, 2020 — The NRA today filed suit against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, the New York State Department of Economic Development, and New York State Department of Economic Development Acting Commissioner, President, and CEO Eric Gertler in response to the state’s attack on the rights of New York citizens and residents to exercise their Second Amendment freedoms.
The lawsuit focuses on Executive Order 202.8, issued by Gov. Cuomo on March 20, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 health crisis. According to the lawsuit, that order “effectively and indefinitely suspended a key component of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution – shutting down all gun stores in the State of New York, including federally licensed gun stores, by deeming them ‘non-essential’ businesses.” Under the order, “essential” businesses are permitted to remain open. According to the NRA, the order had the intended effect of eliminating the only way of legally purchasing firearms in the state.
NRA Seeks Preliminary Injunction Against New York State Department of Financial Services to Confront Expedited Enforcement Action
FEBRUARY 28, 2020 — Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors announced today that its client, the National Rifle Association of America (“NRA”), seeks a preliminary injunction in federal court to block the New York State Department of Financial Services (“DFS”) from conducting enforcement proceedings against the NRA. On February 5, 2020, DFS served a Statement of Charges against the NRA and noticed a hearing on April 6, 2020 to address alleged violation of New York State insurance law.
Filed on February 28, 2020, the NRA’s court papers claim that in the face of startling new evidence and documents detailing backroom pressure it placed on insurance companies to blacklist the NRA, the DFS hurriedly amended its hearing rules, then contrived to conclude its investigation of the NRA – so it could divert important issues to a private, DFS-controlled forum instead of a New York jury.
NRA Prevails Against City of Los Angeles as Court Issues Final Judgment Striking Down Blacklisting Campaign
FEBRUARY 7, 2020 — The National Rifle Association of America (“NRA”) today announced that Judge Stephen V. Wilson of the United States District Court for the Central District of California issued a final Judgment of Permanent Injunction against the City of Los Angeles and in favor of the NRA.
Dated February 5, 2020, the judgment permanently prohibits the city from enforcing an ordinance that had required NRA members or supporters to disclose their support for the NRA in order to be considered to do business with the city. The outcome is another legal victory for the NRA, which is successfully confronting many First Amendment attacks on the organization and its members.
Los Angeles Backs Down, Repeals Controversial Ordinance Targeting NRA
JANUARY 21, 2020 —The Los Angeles City Council today voted to formally repeal a controversial city ordinance requiring contractors seeking to do business with the city to disclose ties to the National Rifle Association (NRA). The decision is another legal victory for the Association, which argued that the ordinance violated its First Amendment right to free speech and won an injunction blocking the law.
“The same city officials who vowed to defend this ordinance are on the run,” said Jason Ouimet, executive director of NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. “In addition to the NRA members they wronged, city officials must now answer to voters and taxpayers for their failed experiment, and explain why they recklessly subjected the city to legal and financial exposure.”
The New York Times Magazine Reports on NRA
DECEMBER 18, 2019 — The New York Times Magazine today published the article, “Inside Wayne LaPierre’s Battle for the NRA.” The piece, which centers on an interview with LaPierre, chronicles the NRA’s position on a wide range of legal, regulatory and reputational concerns.
The article also underscores an important truth: In the face of relentless pressure, LaPierre and the NRA have fought to protect the interests of the Association and its millions of loyal members. The piece explores the apparent political motivation behind an investigation by the New York Attorney General, and offers information that supports the NRA’s legal position of former vendor Ackerman McQueen.
Speaking directly of Ackerman, The New York Times cites its independent research regarding the poor reach and exposure of the NRATV platform and quotes an Ackerman client who validates the merits of the NRA’s legal actions against the agency.
Federal Judge Blocks Enforcement of Los Angeles Law Targeting the NRA
DECEMBER 11, 2019 — U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson today granted a preliminary injunction that blocks enforcement of a Los Angeles law requiring contractors seeking to do business with the city to disclose ties to the NRA.
Judge Wilson said that the NRA was likely to show that the law violated its constitutional First Amendment right to free speech and would cause irreparable harm.
Chuck Michel, a lawyer for the NRA, called the law "part of a larger unfounded campaign of shame against the NRA and its message" by politicians opposed to its views on gun rights, including the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
"The First Amendment protects people who believe in the Second Amendment," Michel said in an interview.
“This is an important win for the NRA, our members, and all who believe in America’s constitutional freedoms,” says Andrew Arulanandam. “In a strong rebuke of the city’s actions, the ordinance is banned from taking effect. Coupled with the NRA’s recent victory against the City of San Francisco, the ruling sends a powerful message to those government officials who would take any actions that are adverse to the NRA because they dislike its political speech.”
NRA Withdraws Lawsuit in San Francisco; Celebrates Important Legal Victory
NOVEMBER 7, 2019 — The NRA today withdrew its lawsuit against San Francisco — and now celebrates the important victory it obtained on behalf of its members.
"As has been widely reported, after the Association challenged the unconstitutional resolution, the City beat a hasty retreat and backed down from its wildly illegal blacklisting scheme," says William A. Brewer III, partner at Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors and counsel to the NRA. “The censors are on notice. The NRA will always fight for the Constitution, and will re-file if the City tries anything like this in the future."
NRA Achieves Victory in Lawsuit Against Former NRA President Lt. Col. Oliver North
OCTOBER 10, 2019 — On October 10, 2019, the NRA achieved a victory in its lawsuit against former NRA President Lt. Col. Oliver North, when the New York Supreme Court dismissed, with prejudice, North's demands for indemnification from the NRA.
In response to the New York Supreme Court ruling, NRA outside counsel William A. Brewer III stated, "This decision is a resounding win for the NRA in its dispute with Lt. Col. North. The NRA always viewed the position of Lt. Col. North as a misguided attempt to deflect from the cold reality: he played a central role in a corrupt scheme that actually caused many of the issues for which he sought indemnification.”
Brewer added, “The NRA will continue to hold Lt. Col. North and others accountable for actions taken in pursuit of their own self-interests. The Association will stay on the principled path – in support of its Constitutional freedoms and those of the millions of members it serves.”
San Francisco Backs Down: Facing a Lawsuit by the NRA, Mayor London Breed Declares – We Won’t Blacklist NRA Contractors
OCTOBER 1, 2019 — The NRA declared victory in San Francisco today, after Mayor London Breed formally disavowed key provisions of a municipal resolution that signaled the blacklisting of contractors linked to the Second Amendment advocacy group.
In a formal memorandum to City officials, Mayor Breed declared that “no [municipal] department will take steps to restrict any contractor from doing business with the NRA or to restrict City contracting opportunities for any business that has any relationship with the NRA.”
NRA Responds to Report by Senate Finance Committee Democrats
SEPTEMBER 27, 2019 — The NRA responded today to a report issued by Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee regarding the NRA and Russia.
“This report promotes a politically motivated and contrived narrative. An avalanche of proof confirms that the NRA, as an organization, was never involved in the activities about which the Democrats write,” says William A. Brewer III, counsel to the NRA. “This report goes to great lengths to try to involve the NRA in activities of private individuals and create the false impression that the NRA did not act appropriately. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Brewer continued, “As noted by the committee Republicans in their rebuttal, this report is a transparent effort to justify yet another ‘fishing expedition’ into the NRA.”
Speaking of a 2015 trip to Russia, Andrew Arulanandam, NRA managing director of Public Affairs, said, “Certain NRA members made the trip of their own accord. The record reflects it was not an official NRA trip. NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre was opposed to it and, at his directive, no NRA staff members or employees attended.”
SEPTEMBER 9, 2019 — The NRA released the following statement from NRA CEO and EVP Wayne LaPierre in connection with the NRA's lawsuit, filed September 9, 2019, against the City and County of San Francisco and members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
“This lawsuit comes with a message to those who attack the NRA: we will never stop fighting for our law-abiding members and their constitutional freedoms,” says LaPierre. “Some politicians forget that all 5 million of us in the NRA stand for freedom and that we believe it is a cause worth fighting for. We will always confront illegal and discriminatory practices against our organization and the millions of members we serve.”