Law firm in Dominion case takes on VICE in defamation suit

A display of the NYPD ShotSpotter gunfire-detection system is seen in New York
A display of the NYPD ShotSpotter gunfire-detection system is seen in New York March 16, 2015. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
  • Clare Locke is leading multibillion-dollar election case against Fox News, won $3 million verdict against Rolling Stone
  • Vice accused of defaming ShotSpotter Inc in $300 million suit

(Reuters) - Clare Locke, a small law firm known for squaring off against media companies, is representing gunshot-detection company ShotSpotter in a lawsuit against VICE Media LLC, accusing the company of defamation and seeking $300 million in damages.

The Delaware lawsuit, filed Monday, says VICE in a July 26 article "falsely accused ShotSpotter of conspiring with police to fabricate and alter evidence to frame Black men for crimes they did not commit."

A spokesperson for VICE declined to comment. The news outlet has yet to respond in court and hasn't publicly retained counsel in the case.

Claire Locke's founders, married ex-Kirkland & Ellis partners Thomas Clare and Libby Locke, have carved a plaintiffs-side niche that's unusual for a pair of former Big Law firm partners. Among its cases, Clare Locke represented a University of Virginia dean who won a $3 million verdict over Rolling Stone's debunked reporting of a purported rape.

In the seven-year-old firm's most high-profile case so far, Clare Locke is representing Dominion Voting Systems in multibillion-dollar lawsuits alleging Fox News, Rudy Giuliani and others spread false claims that Dominion's machines rigged the 2020 election against former President Donald Trump. The defendants have countered that their claims were protected by the First Amendment.

ShotSpotter uses acoustic sensors and software to detect loud noises in an area and isolate the sound of gunshots. The alerts it generates, including when and where the noises were detected, are routed to law enforcement, according to the company.

In its July story, VICE wrote that its review of court documents "suggests that the company’s analysts frequently modify alerts at the request of police departments — some of which appear to be grasping for evidence that supports their narrative of events."

Reuters has previously reported on the company's work with police departments.

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David Thomas reports on the business of law, including law firm strategy, hiring, mergers and litigation. He is based out of Chicago. He can be reached at and on Twitter @DaveThomas5150.