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Williams v. The Agency, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

February 6, 2014

CATHERINE WILLIAMS, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
THE AGENCY, INC., Defendant

Page 410

For Catherine Williams, Gregg Alvin Marsh, Plaintiffs: Michael Lorraine Donner, Sr., LEAD ATTORNEY, Dunton Simmons & Dunton LLP, White Stone, VA.

For The Agency, Inc., doing business as The Agency Private Detectives, Inc., Defendant: John David McGavin, LEAD ATTORNEY, Bancroft McGavin Horvath & Judkins PC, Fairfax, VA.

OPINION

Page 411

MEMORANDUM OPINION

James R. Spencer, United States District Judge.

THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Defendant The Agency, Inc.'s (" Defendant" or " The Agency" ) Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (ECF No. 6). For the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS the Motion as to Counts I and II of Plaintiffs' Complaint and DENIES the Motion as to Counts III, IV, and V.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Catherine Williams (" Williams" ) owns a residence located at 313 Third Street, Colonial Beach, Virginia. On or about July 27, 2012, Brady Kelly O'Hanlon (" O'Hanlon" ) retained The Agency to conduct surveillance on Williams. O'Hanlon and Williams were then married but separated. O'Hanlon had previously executed a settlement agreement (" Settlement Agreement" )

Page 412

with Williams in which he agreed that Williams would be " free from the authority or control . . . [of O'Hanlon] . . . as if . . . she . . . were unmarried." (Compl. Ex. 3). The Settlement Agreement further provided that O'Hanlon would not " molest or interfere" with Williams. ( Id. ) Notwithstanding these contractual provisions, on or about July 27, 2012, O'Hanlon hired The Agency to conduct surveillance on Williams.

William Cline (" Cline" ) was an employee of The Agency. On August 8, 2012, The Agency ordered Cline to conduct surveillance on Williams. On August 8, 2012, at or about 8:00 p.m., Cline arrived at Williams's house and began to conduct surveillance. Cline contacted The Agency prior to 10:12 p.m. and told them that he could not see Williams inside of her house. Upon receiving that report from Cline, The Agency told Cline to go around to the back of Williams's house and videotape inside the house through a window. Cline then left his car, which was parked on a public street, and walked onto Williams's property. Cline then walked around to the back of Williams's house in order to attain a visual sight line into Williams's living room. Between 10:12 p.m. and 10:39 p.m. on August 8, 2012, Cline videotaped Williams and Gregg Alvin Marsh (" Marsh" ) having a sexual encounter inside of Williams's house. The Agency subsequently distributed the resulting video and related field report to O'Hanlon.

II. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs Williams and Marsh filed suit in this Court on August 16, 2013 seeking civil damages against The Agency. Under Counts I and II of the Complaint, Plaintiffs claim that The Agency, under a theory of respondeat superior, violated Virginia Code § 19.2-59. Under Count III, Plaintiffs claim that The Agency, under a theory of respondeat superior, trespassed upon Williams's property. Under Counts IV and V, Plaintiffs claim that The Agency, under a theory of respondeat superior, intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon Williams and Marsh. Williams requests $30,000,000.00 in compensatory damages. Marsh requests $20,000,000.00 in compensatory damages. Further, Williams demands $1,050,000.00 in punitive damages and Marsh demands $700,000.00 in punitive damages. Lastly, Plaintiffs request an award of litigation costs and attorneys' fees.

Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss on October 15, 2013. Defendant moves the Court to Dismiss Counts I, II, IV, and V of the Complaint. Defendant represents that it has timely filed an Answer with respect to Count III. Plaintiffs filed their Opposition to Defendant's Motion ...


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