The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robertson, District Judge.
Plaintiffs Shan and Morgan Sparshott assert federal and common
law privacy violations stemming from defendants' alleged
wiretapping and video surveillance of their activities at home
and at work, by and through the actions of a former senior
officer and director of Feld Entertainment, Inc. Before the
Court is defendants' motion to dismiss all claims against Feld's
wholly-owned subsidiary Sells-Floto, to dismiss the claims of
conspiracy and intentional infliction of emotional distress
against Feld and to transfer the remainder of the case to the
Eastern District of Virginia. For the reasons set forth below,
the motion to dismiss Sells-Floto will be granted. The motion
for partial dismissal and transfer as to Feld will be denied.
Shan Sparshott has worked as a travel administrator at Feld's
headquarters in Vienna, Virginia, since August 17, 1992. Feld
Entertainment, Inc. is a privately owned company that has rights
to certain exhibitions, shows and other public entertainment,
including Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus, Walt
Disney's World on Ice and Siegfried & Roy. The other named
defendant, Sells-Floto, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Feld. It
manufactures and distributes circus supplies and related
paraphernalia. At all times relevant to this lawsuit, Charles F.
Smith was a director, officer and stockholder of Feld and the
senior vice president of Sells-Floto.
Plaintiffs allege that defendants, through the actions of Mr.
Smith and other unnamed employees, caused the surreptitious
placement of video cameras in the ceiling above Shan Sparshott's
work space and the installation of electronic monitoring devices
to record her telephone conversations.
Plaintiffs also allege privacy violations at their home. Shan
and Morgan Sharshott were the sole occupants of a home located
in McLean, Virginia. Mr. Smith owned the home. Plaintiffs allege
that Mr. Smith and unnamed others caused the installation of
electronic monitoring devices designed to permit electronic
eavesdropping and recording of their telephone conversations,
and that Mr. Smith even arranged for video recording of
plaintiffs' private and intimate affairs.
On or about March 7, 1997, Shan Sparshott discovered that an
electronic wiretapping device had been placed on her work
telephone. She also discovered the existence of numerous
videotapes of both plaintiffs engaged in various private and
intimate activities in their home, and of Shan Sparshott at her
Plaintiffs filed their original complaint, only against Feld,
on March 3, 1999. Feld moved to dismiss, plaintiffs opposed, and
Feld replied. Plaintiffs then filed an amended superseding
complaint on June 2, 1999, recasting some of their claims to
avoid dismissal, and adding Sells-Floto, Inc. as an additional
defendant. The amended complaint sets forth eleven causes of
action. Those relevant to this motion may be grouped as follows:
A. Claims Against Sells-Floto
The claims against Sells-Floto were added by an amended
complaint filed June 2, 1999. It is undisputed that, unless the
amendment relates back to the date of plaintiffs' original
complaint, those claims are barred by the applicable two-year
statute of limitations. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(c) provides, in relevant
An amendment of a pleading relates back to the date
of the original pleading when:
(1) relation back is permitted by the law that
provides the statute of limitations applicable to the
(3) . . . the party to be brought in by amendment (A)
has received such notice of the institution of the
action that the party will not be prejudiced in
maintaining a defense on the merits, and (B) knew or
should have known that, but for a mistake concerning
the identity of ...