The NRA filed a lawsuit against Ackerman McQueen, Mercury Group, and Tony Makris in the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas. According to the case’s docket number, it was filed sometime in 2022 and it was assigned to Senior Judge A. Joe Fish. The other known facts about the case are that they subpoenaed Tony Makris’ wife Elicia Warner Loughlin for documents and the case is being handled as you’d expect by Brewer, Attorneys and Counselors.
And that concludes what is public knowledge about the case because it appears to be under seal.
Knowledge that the case even existed is due to an article in The Trace by Will Van Zant posted on Thursday. You may not like that he reports for The Trace but he does get his facts correct. He discovered the case when he stumbled across a motion to quash the subpoena to Makris’ wife. That motion was filed in US District Court in South Carolina. Even knowing this, it took me several tries before I could find the motion.
According to the motion to quash the subpoena, it is contended that the subpoena is burdensome because it is overbroad and it asks for information of which she has no knowledge. Her attorney also contends that the subpoena’s secondary purpose is to annoy, embarrass, and harass Ms. Loughlin merely because Tony Makris is her husband. The motion notes that much of the information requested had already been provided to the NRA in their suit against Under Wild Skies in Virginia state court. It should be noted that the NRA lost that case and had to pay a little over a half million in damages to Under Wild Skies. In addition to what was previously provided to the NRA, Brewer is now demanding Ms. Loughlin’s personal and business tax returns for the years 2009-2018.
Ms. Loughlin is also asking for a protective order. As her attorney notes:
UWS is not a party to the above captioned litigation. Mrs. Loughlin is not affiliated with any of the Defendants, except for being married to Mr. Makris. The NRA is going to have to state with some clarity how seeking nine (9) years of tax returns from Mrs. Loughlin and her unaffiliated business entity is in any way related to the sealed action pending in Texas. The same would need to apply to the request for her deposition as she has already sat for a deposition at the request of this same party, the NRA. Quite frankly
nothing has changed since the first time she sat other than the fact that we have a new lawsuit in a different jurisdiction.
At this point it should be pointed out that not only did the NRA lose to Under Wild Skies in state court but ended up settling with AckMac to the tune of $12 million in their previous Federal lawsuit against them.
In his article about the current lawsuit, Van Zant reached out to Judge Phil Journey for comment. Phil said it seemed crazy to him and that if the facts aren’t on your side, you resort to BS.
An expert on sealed cases, Prof. Jane Kirtley of the University of Minnesota said there were usually only three reasons for a case to be sealed: to protect personal privacy, national security, or trade secrets. Prior to coming to the University of MN, Kirtley was the Executive Director of The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
Van Zant quotes her as saying:
Simply wanting to avoid attention is not a valid basis, she said. “People that have disputes don’t have to use courts to settle them, they have other options,” Kirtley said. “The price of admission ought to be that the filing of a lawsuit is a matter of public record, and that if elements of a case are sealed, it’s only for legitimate reasons.”
Although judges are not supposed to seal cases merely because the parties would prefer anonymity, Kirtley said that too often they do. “Judges concentrate on the parties before them,” Kirtley said, “and if the parties are content with or agitating for secrecy, some courts don’t care and just go along to get along. But that ignores the fact that the public has an interest in open courts, in how cases proceed, in whether one party gets a break and another does not.”
Having searched for the case under its docket number (3:22-CY-1944-G) as well as a search by name in Pacer, I can confirm what Van Zant has said. No public record of this case can be found. Like him, I found that incredibly strange.
So to conclude, I have a handful of questions.
What is the purpose of this lawsuit by the NRA?
How much is Brewer making as a result of bringing another case against his late father-in-law’s company?
Why is it sealed?
And most importantly, is anyone on the Board of Directors even aware that the NRA is suing Ackerman McQueen again?