A state court in Baltimore has dismissed ACORN's lawsuit against James O'Keefe, Hannah Giles, and Breitbart.com LLC after the plaintiffs failed to serve the complaint on the defendants within Maryland's 120-day limit.
ACORN v. O'Keefe Docket
It was with great fanfare that ACORN, along with two recently-fired employees of its Baltimore office, sued last September over the surreptitious taping of the employees advising O'Keefe and Giles on running a prostitution business out of a house. ACORN's general counsel, Arthur Schwartz, told the Washington Post at the time that the defendants, young filmmakers O'Keefe and Giles, plus Andrew Breitbart's Breitbart.com LLC, which disseminated the videos, had committed "clear violations of Maryland law" against audio recording without consent from all parties. But ACORN appears to have lost interest in the case since filing it, confirming my suspicion that it was little more than a press release on pleading paper.
Under Maryland Rule 2-507(b), "An action against any defendant who has not been served or over whom the court has not otherwise acquired jurisdiction is subject to dismissal as to that defendant at the expiration of 120 days from the issuance of original process directed to that defendant." That's exactly what the court did March 4, with no apparent notice from the media that covered the filing of the lawsuit. The court's dismissal was without prejudice, meaning that the plaintiffs could theoretically re-file. But, as I argued shortly after it was filed, the lawsuit has substantive flaws that go well beyond the plaintiffs' apparent lack of interest in pursuing it.