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Twitter Taps WilmerHale Partners in Trump Free Speech Lawsuit

Sept. 2, 2021, 2:51 PM

Twitter Inc. has named a trio of WilmerHale partners to defend the company against former President Donald Trump’s free speech lawsuit.

Felicia Ellsworth, Patrick Carome, and Ari Holtzblatt filed paperwork Wednesday to appear in the case. Ellsworth is vice chair of WilmerHale’s Litigation/Controversy department, and Carome and Holtzblatt focus on civil litigation and public policy litigation, respectively.

Twitter motioned Wednesday to move the case from the Southern District of Florida, where Trump resides, to its headquarters in the Northern District of California. The San Francisco-based company called the lawsuit “meritless” and said it should be “dismissed with prejudice as a matter of law.”

Trump’s three class action lawsuits against Twitter, Facebook Inc., and Google’s YouTube allege that the social media companies violated his and others’ First Amendment rights. Legal scholars have called the suits “frivolous” because private entities like Twitter aren’t governed by the Constitution.

The former president’s legal team is led by John P. Coale, a personal injury litigator known for tackling the tobacco and gun industries. His team also includes John Q. Kelly, a litigator that sued O.J. Simpson on behalf of the estate of Nicole Brown Simpson, and Carlos Trujillo, a former state legislator.

Holtzblatt, who like Carome is based in Washington, referred comment requests for the two of them and Boston-based Ellsworth to Twitter, which did not immediately respond.

Twitter’s local counsel in Miami is Peter Homer of Homer Bonner Jacobs & Ortiz. Homer did not respond to a request for comment.

Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, does not appear to have individual representation in the case.

On Tuesday, YouTube named a team of Wilson Sonsini lawyers with experience in Constitutional law to represent it and Google CEO Sundar Pichai. As of Thursday morning, Facebook has not named its lawyers.

The case is Trump et al v. Twitter, Inc et al, S.D. Fla., 1:21-cv-22441-RNS.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ruiqi Chen in Washington, D.C. at rchen@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com;
John Hughes in Washington at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com