Appeals Court Upholds Dismissal of Lawsuit Alleging Lawyers Laundered Austrian Gov Funds Through Bitcoin

News | June 24, 2024 By:

On Thursday, June 13, 2024, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by Elena Dvoinik and Boris Zavadovsky against Elke Rolff and Dale Webner.

Dvoinik and Zavadovsky, representing themselves, had sued Rolff and Webner alleging they were involved in a criminal enterprise related to money laundering and witness tampering. According to the complaint, Rolff operated a law firm that received money stolen from the Austrian budget, which was later laundered through various means including bitcoin and electronic art.

Rolff and Webner represented defendants in previous lawsuits filed by Dvoinik and Zavadovsky against the Austrian government and its citizens. The plaintiffs claimed Rolff and Webner were not properly registered as foreign agents and pressured them to drop their claims. They alleged Rolff and Webner committed predicate acts of money laundering and witness tampering as part of the criminal enterprise.

However, the district court dismissed the case, finding the complaint constituted an impermissible “shotgun pleading” that made it difficult for the defendants to fully understand the claims being made. Shotgun pleadings lump multiple claims together or incorporate all allegations into each subsequent claim.

On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal, agreeing the complaint fit the definition of a shotgun pleading. It contained counts that adopted all preceding allegations and included irrelevant facts not clearly linked to any cause of action. While pro se pleadings are given leeway, plaintiffs must still give fair notice of specific claims.

The appellate court also rejected arguments that the district court erred by not requiring the defendants to default or permitting discovery first. As the defendants had timely filed a motion to dismiss that was still pending, they were not required to file an answer at that time. Facial challenges to a complaint’s legal sufficiency, like whether it constitutes a shotgun pleading, can properly be resolved without discovery.

Going forward, the suit remains dismissed without prejudice, leaving the door open for plaintiffs to refile an amended complaint that clearly outlines specific allegations against each defendant if they choose.

Please contact BlockTribune for access to a copy of this filing.