Cases & Deals

Congressman Boehner wins damages and attorney's fees in suit over disclosure of illegally recorded tape

Clients Congressman John A. Boehner

Jones Day represented Congressman John A. Boehner, who sued Congressman James McDermott for unlawfully disclosing an illegally recorded tape of a telephone conversation among Boehner and other House of Representatives leaders, including then-Speaker Newt Gingrich. The central issue was McDermott's defense that the First Amendment protects the disclosure of truthful information about a matter of public concern. After discovery, the district court granted Boehner's motion for summary judgment, concluding that McDermott had knowingly participated in an illegal transaction by accepting the tape from the interceptors with knowledge of their illegal conduct. The district court subsequently awarded Boehner statutory damages, attorney's fees, and punitive damages totaling more than $1 million. The en banc court of appeals affirmed the judgment, holding that McDermott had no First Amendment right to disclose the tape because he had voluntarily assumed a duty of confidentiality as to material received in connection with his official duties.

Boehner v. McDermott, 332 F. Supp. 2d 149 (D.D.C. 2004), aff'd, 484 F.3d 573 (D.C. Cir.) (en banc), cert. denied, 552 U.S. 1072 (2007); Boehner v. McDermott, 541 F. Supp. 2d 310 (D.D.C. 2008)