Shirvell files motion to dismiss claims made by Armstrong

BY SARAH ALSADEN
Daily News Editor
Published May 11, 2011

Former Michigan assistant attorney general Andrew Shirvell filed a motion last Friday to dismiss several claims made against him in a lawsuit issued by former Michigan Student Assembly President Chris Armstrong.

Shirvell aims to rescind five of the six claims made against him in the suit filed on April 1 at the Washtenaw County Circuit Court including defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, abuse of process, stalking and one of two counts of invasion of privacy. Shirvell also requested on May 1 for the suit to be transferred to federal court since he has recently moved to New York.

Shirvell’s motion to dismiss does not include the first count of invasion of privacy — which states he “falsely and maliciously represented” Armstrong by dispersing private information through his blog “Chris Armstrong Watch," according to the April 1 complaint filed by Armstrong’s attorney. In the blog, Shrivell claims that Armstrong, who is the first openly gay MSA president, was using his position on MSA to instill a “radical homosexual agenda.”

In a press statement sent by Shirvell to The Michigan Daily on May 10, he wrote that he believes Armstrong’s lawsuit is “politically motivated,” and “is entirely without merit and totally devoid of reality.”

Shirvell added that he has been caused economic and personal strife, using this as the foundation for the counterclaims he’s making against Armstrong in an effort to dismiss the counts.

“Unlike Mr. Armstrong, I have suffered real economic damage, including significant loss of income, future earnings, and the right to enjoyment of my livelihood,” Shirvell wrote. “And, I have suffered those damages as a direct result of Mr. Armstrong’s wrongful conduct. I look forward to successfully litigating my claims in the Court.”

Deborah Gordon, Armstrong’s attorney, said in an interview on May 10 that she doesn’t believe Shirvell’s motion to dismiss the claims will be successful because his counterclaims lack basis, adding that it was Shirvell’s own actions that led to his termination as assistant attorney general.

“The attorney general did lay out very specific reasons including him lying to the attorney general, him using state equipment for his blog, and many other things,” Gordon said. “That’s why he’s out of a job, and out of an income — wrong-doing on his part.”

Shirvell also wrote in the press statement that his actions against Armstrong are protected by the United States Constitution and will be recognized by the court, which he believes will ultimately dismiss the “frivolous lawsuit.”

“I am confident that the Court will ultimately throw-out Mr. Armstrong’s baseless lawsuit and that my First Amendment rights will be upheld,” Shirvell wrote.

Gordon said the transfer of the case to federal court will not affect the trial, and that though Shirvell claims he’s confident that the court will side with him as a protection of his First Amendment rights, this will not be the case.

“The law does not protect people that lie about other people, intentionally and recklessly,” Gordon said.

The best course of action for Shirvell is to apologize for his previous statements, Gordon said.

“What Mr. Shirvell really needs to do is take responsibility for what he has done and the lies he has published,” she said. “He needs to retract them, he needs to apologize and he needs to try to move on with his life.”