I recently took a look at Pasqual “Trey” Perez III v Speech-to-Text Institute, et al, lawsuit. I would like to share some notes I wrote as I went through the documents. So far, there have been no formal “Answers” in the case, mostly pre-answer motions to dismiss by defendants and, from the Speech-to-Text Institute, a “response to civil action.” I’m providing documents for download here and my typed notes below:
Amended Complaint – Didn’t really see huge changes, but admittedly only glanced through it.
Southwest Reporting Motion to Dismiss – Basically attacks facial sufficiency of the complaint under the Twombly and Iqbal standards for federal pleadings. They’re saying that the complaint does not allege facts that show a that Southwest conspired with anyone else. Paragraph 8 says the only new facts alleged in the amended complaint were in paragraph 16 of that amended complaint. Paragraph 8 goes on to talk a little about COVID and how that drove down demand for videographers.
Motion for Summary Judgment by Alderson Reporting Company – Alderson basically says “we didn’t make the decision to stop using Trey based on his new product.” They also point to COVID as a reason things changed. Alderson explicitly denies it ever discussed its decision to choose a new vendor with any other third party.
An order granting Dennis Holmgren’s motion to appear pro hac vice is included. Dennis Holmgren was the lawyer that helped bring the writ against the government for failing to enforce the law against StoryCloud.
Lexitas (Deposition Solutions, LLC) motion to dismiss – This makes the claim that Trey attempted to market his speech-to-text product to lawyers during depositions where he was hired to provide video recording services. Lexitas makes the claim that plaintiffs were not entitled to provide rough transcription services because they are not CSRs. It also alleges that the facts in the complaint do not support that Lexitas engaged in any kind of collusion. Lexitas likens Trey’s actions to a house painter trying to conduct electrical work they’re not qualified for and dismissal by a general contractor.
Court Reporters Clearinghouse, Kennedy Reporting, Sherry Fisher, Lorrie Schnoor, Sonia Trevino, and Shelly Tucker motion to dismiss – These movants also challenge the facial sufficiency of the complaint. The motion to dismiss makes the claim that the reference to others blackballing Trey does not rise to the level of sustaining a claim against Defendant Tucker. It further goes on to state that movants are within their right to stop doing business with plaintiffs because plaintiffs were violating court reporting laws. Similar to the Lexitas motion, it makes the point that the government sets the bar for entry and that plaintiffs did not meet that bar, therefore there can be no conspiracy to keep them out of the market. It also makes the claim that the non-certified transcript market talked about in the complaint does not exist. This motion also raises the claim that movants are not competitors and therefore cannot be sued under the antitrust laws.
Response to civil action by the Speech-to-Text Institute – Interestingly, the Speech-to-Text Institute doesn’t seem to file a formal motion to dismiss, but it sends a “response to civil action” by someone named Greg Kohn, Executive Manager of the Speech-to-Text Institute, care of Virtual, Inc. The response features affirmative defenses, such as stating that Steve Townsend was never President of the National Court Reporters Association, among other things. What surprised me about this was that they referenced their website. That website likely went down between 5/19/23 when this document was filed with the court and 5/31/23 when the Stenograph Town Hall occurred.
To be honest, it doesn’t really surprise me that they’re hoping to get out of it based on the bare-bones allegations in the complaint. The complaint never makes reference to any of anticompetitive acts I was accusing the corporations behind the Speech-to-Text Institute of, such as pumping the market with false, outdated, or misleading information designed to expand demand for digital court reporting. Actually, reading this response gives me a bit of a theory. They’re hoping to be blanket released from the case with the other defendants and now with their site gone plaintiff will have a harder time proving their false claims because their website has been dusted. To my knowledge, the only way to peruse that website is to pull snippets off Stenonymous or use the Wayback Machine. If Trey manages to get past pleading stages here, I wonder if it’ll come up that they vaporized their website about 10 days after filing a document with the court referring to that very same website.
The Texas Court Reporters Association also filed a motion to dismiss, but I did not have time to review that prior to launching this post. I can only assume it points out the same issues, but if I get around to reading it and learn I am wrong, I’ll amend this post.
Overall: Reading through the defendants’ filings has made me rethink some of what I thought in my original post. It will be interesting to see how many defendants are able to succeed in extricating themselves from the lawsuit before filing an Answer.
The Speech-to-Text Institute’s response will also be hosted here.