TPG, Levine spar over lawsuit jurisdiction

The global buyout firm and its former PR head are locked in a legal battle over TPG’s right to sue Levine in the state of Texas.

TPG Capital and its former global head of public affairs Adam Levine are contesting what jurisdiction TPG’s lawsuit against Levine can be heard. Levine has filed two motions in the US District Court of the Northern District of Texas challenging the jurisdiction of TPG’s suit, and if he is successful, the court could dismiss TPG’s case.

TPG filed a suit against Levine in late January, claiming that he stole confidential documents and computers and shared altered information with the media after being denied a promotion. TPG maintained that the case had “diversity jurisdiction”, which applies for civil disputes between citizens of different states (provided the amount the plaintiff seeks in damages exceeds $75,000).

Levine, a citizen of California, responded April 2 with a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit against TPG in the US District Court of the Northern District of California. He then filed a motion in Northern Texas District Court to dismiss TPG’s complaint, challenging its diversity jurisdiction claims.

Levine’s motion to dismiss argued that, because TPG founder James Coulter is a California citizen and a limited partnership is a citizen of each state in which one of its partners is a citizen, TPG Capital LP is technically also a citizen of California. Therefore, the two parties are not diverse.

TPG fired back by filing a second amended complaint on April 17, abandoning its claim to diversity jurisdiction and instead alleging it had federal-question jurisdiction over the case (in which the suit must claim the defendant broke a federal law). The amendment makes new allegations that Levine’s actions violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Levine did not originally oppose TPG’s motion to file the April 17 complaint, but, after reading its updated claims, he filed a motion to vacate the order that granted TPG leave to file it. A 20-page reply submitted by Levine Monday argues that TPG does not have diversity jurisdiction nor federal-question jurisdiction, and asks again that the court dismiss TPG’s suit, claiming that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act violation allegations were introduced as an afterthought.  

The Northern Texas District Court is giving TPG until Wednesday to submit its response to Levine’s filing, after which it will decide whether to throw out TPG’s second amended complaint or dismiss the case entirely.

The legal maneuvering on behalf of both parties comes as no surprise in such a highly contentious case. Levine’s lawyers have called TPG’s suit “wholly false” and a “kamikaze legal strategy” and TPG has similarly denied all of the assertions in Levine’s suit, calling it “nothing more than a meritless pleading designed to distract attention from Levine’s own egregious and illegal misconduct.”