Elk Mountain and an entrance to Elk Mountain Ranch near Interstate 80 in Carbon County. (Mike Vanata/WyoFile)

Fredric Eshelman, the owner of the ranch in a widely watched corner-crossing trespass case, wants Google to unmask an anonymous critic who said Eshelman “abused police resources” during the Carbon County trespass conflict.

A California judge should force Google LLC to reveal the true identity of the person who used the pseudonymous email account terrynewsomee@gmail.com to call the pharmaceutical magnate “a piece of s**t,” and tell others to “cease partnerships” with the company Eshelman Ventures, according to Eshelman’s legal filings.

Eshelman needs the identity of the J. Doe behind the fake email address to sue him or her in Germany and India for defamation, according to papers filed in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California, San Jose Division.

At issue are statements in the emails that the billionaire owner of Elk Mountain Ranch “abused police resources” by “repeatedly sending game wardens and officers after hunters that were ‘corner crossing’ into public land.”

That statement “is blatantly false,” Eshelman states in his application for a subpoena to discover the identity of Doe. U.S. District Judge Edward Davila approved the subpoena May 9, but will hear challenges by Doe and Google before deciding whether it will go into effect.

Doe’s identity is protected information under U.S. laws, lawyers for the anonymous critic and Google say. The judge has set a hearing for Aug. 24 to consider Doe and Google’s motions to stop the unmasking.

Eshelman wants to sue Doe overseas for defamation because the critical emails went “to various of Dr. Eshelman’s contacts, including companies and their representatives based in Germany and India.”

“Considering that my email about Eshelman simply expressed my opinion about a controversy that had been covered in the media, I am asking the Court not to let Eshelman compel disclosure of my identity.”

J. Doe

The convoluted legal action filed Jan. 13 to ascertain “discovery for use in foreign proceedings,” has raised First Amendment freedom-of-speech worries among public-interest advocates.

“Can Frederic [sic] Eshelman Avoid the First Amendment by Claiming That He Plans to Sue a U.S. Critic Abroad?” attorney Paul Alan Levy of the Public Citizen Litigation Group titled a blog posted on the Public Citizen website.

Reputation harmed?

The fracas grew from incidents in 2020 and 2021 when four Missouri hunters corner crossed at Eshelman’s 22,045-acre ranch, stepping from one piece of public land to another without setting foot on private property. The corner crossing took place at the intersection of four parcels, two private and two public, arranged in a checkerboard pattern.

Eshelman’s property manager Steve Grende badgered law officers to get their superiors to cite the hunters. “Do they realize how much money my boss has?” Grende stated in a meeting with a warden and deputy captured on a body-cam video.

Fredric Eshelman. (Eshelman Ventures/screengrab)

Attorney Levy, who represents Doe, said in his blog that Eshelman “used his political influence” to get Carbon County Attorney Ashley Mayfield Davis to file trespass charges. Those alleged the hunters trespassed by passing through the airspace above Elk Mountain Ranch at the intersection of the four corners. A jury found the hunters not guilty in 2022.

Eshelman’s civil suit against the hunters, which sought up to $7.75 million in damages, also failed.

In seeking to unmask Doe, Eshelman’s attorneys called their client a “leader in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries” and claimed that Doe irreparably harmed his reputation. The foreign connections arise because “Doe published these statements in Germany and India to a digital technology company called Carbon3D [and] a company called 6 Degrees PR,” according to court filings.

Eshelman’s lawyers rejected Doe’s claim of police abuse. “Dr. Eshelman only contacted authorities after learning that three individuals had trespassed onto his private Wyoming property,” filings state.

Doe made other statements in the emails, including that Eshelman “sent $2.5 million to the ‘Stop the Steal’ movement.” Doe also sent a message to an Eshelman employee calling the Stop the Steal movement “traitorous.”

“I guess I have a message for Fred from one American to another,” Doe stated, according to filings. “You’re a piece of s**t and there is no place in heaven for people like you. F**k you and your family.”

Eshelman needs the identity of Doe, “[s]o he may identify and locate Doe for litigation,” court papers state. His attorneys did not return requests for comment Wednesday.

Doe speaks

Doe wants to remain anonymous, according to a declaration filed through attorney Levy.

“Considering that my email about Eshelman simply expressed my opinion about a controversy that had been covered in the media, I am asking the Court not to let Eshelman compel disclosure of my identity,” Doe stated in a document on which his or her true name is redacted.

J. Doe’s true name is redacted in a declaration filed in federal court.

“I do not know any lawyers in India, or Germany. I do not know how I could possibly defend myself if Eshelman were to sue me there,” the declaration states. Also, Doe lives in “Trump Country,” according to the declaration.

“If I were identified as having sent the email expressing critical views of the many people who claim that Trump really won the election in 2020,” Doe wrote, “I am worried that the disclosure might affect me economically and socially.”

Revealing Doe’s identity would saddle him or her with “the burden of defending abroad in the courts, and at home against hostile people in my community.”

Google lawyers also resisted the subpoena, which “appears to be an attempt to circumvent the policies of the United States,” the company stated in court filings. Eshelman has failed to present “evidence of ‘real harm’ that outweighs the speaker’s First Amendment rights,” Google attorneys state.

Also, there are no involved companies in Germany and India as Eshelman claims, according to Google.

The principal of 6 Degrees PR lives in Philadelphia suburbs while Carbon3D is a company headquartered in Redwood City, California, Google stated.

The subpoena “conflicts with the policies of the United States and does not satisfy the First Amendment safeguards applicable to anonymous speech,” Google says. The judge should quash the subpoena, the tech company states.

“By pursuing defamation suits in Germany and India, [Eshelman] appears to be attempting to sidestep the First Amendment,” Google wrote. “Unmasking the Anonymous ‘would unduly chill speech, and deter other critics from exercising their First Amendment Rights,’” Google stated.

Doe’s statements were clearly opinion, Google said.

“This statement [about abusing police resources] was accompanied by a [link to a] news article, which describes a prosecutor’s dismissal of indictments against the hunters and a jury’s finding that the aforementioned hunters were found not guilty,” Google wrote. “Thus, the Anonymous Speaker has disclosed the basis for his conclusion,” which lawyers say is not defamation but rather free speech that’s protected by the First Amendment.

Angus M. Thuermer Jr. is the natural resources reporter for WyoFile. He is a veteran Wyoming reporter and editor with more than 35 years experience in Wyoming. Contact him at angus@wyofile.com or (307)...

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  1. Eshelman’s frivolous legal fusillades in this case are a perfect example of why we need blanket nationwide tort reform. To wit: when the subject matter of a civil lawsuit is in the public interest ( even tangentially ) , the adjudicated outcome of the case should be rendered on a ” Loser Pays” basis.

    Maybe when the likes of Eshelman lose a few high dollar court cases and are forced to pay for both teams of lawyers , they will think twice about filing lawsuits as misguided triage for their greed , bruised egos , hurt feelings , and imaginary damages.

    Having said that, isn’t it revolting that the only real winners in these sorts of things are the lawyers ? Eshelman should be truly thankful we no longer apply frontier justice in his adopted state. You can only succumb once to that form of jurisprudence…

    1. Tort reform usually entails damage caps that just hurt everyday people. It sounds like you’d want an anti-SLAPP law that shifts attorneys’ fees for dismissed lawsuits.

  2. Corner crossing should be allowed in any case where checker board land’s are!!! They are public and state lands and belong to the public!! Ranch owners should have no say in how or when the lands are used! Period!!!!!

  3. It is not defamatory to call someone a “piece of s**t” based on one’s assessment of the person’s behavior. Besides, defamation actions can only proceed on the theory that a person had a good reputation and that someone said something false about the person which injured the person’s reputation. It seems to me that Eshelman’s reputation in Wyoming is so poor that it is impossible to injure it.

  4. No, they didn’t ‘dry up’ Tom Foertsch, the comments aka free speech are just getting warmed up!

  5. Since Mr. Eshelman is a bully, a non believer in the first amendment and a nuisance lawsuit thrower, I’ll bet old Freddie would love to set his sights on WyoFile. Trouble is, Eshelman, apparently this is still America and you’d have to go to Germany or India or whatever bogus nation your shysters claim to commence the harassment. Better yet, there’s a dictator sitting (for the time being) in the Kremlin who’d love to take your call and give ya’ a hand. Many of us would of been in the dark about this bogus corner crossing fiasco hadn’t it of been for Angus Thuermer and WyoFile. Free Press…..don’t you hate that word, Eshelman? I bet you hate it too, Steve Grende and ya, we all know “how much money your boss has” and we also know a lot more about your boss. Thank you the Missouri Four, thank you Angus Thuermer and super thank you to WyoFile!

  6. It really makes me smile knowing that Oligarch Fred is reading all of our comments about him.

  7. “I am worried that the disclosure might affect me economically and socially.” ~ Doe

    But sends emails to companies Eshelman does business with in order to affect him economically and socially. What a hypocrite.

    I’ve been staunchly opposed to Eshelman and his corner crossing nonsense, but this too is nonsense.

  8. Fred Eshelman should just get over himself. His failed attempt to hold the hunters responsible from corner-crossing and invading his airspace should’ve given him the message. Wyoming’s public lands are so checkerboarded. It would be impossible not to corner cross to go hunting. Maybe Wyoming‘s biggest problem is we have way too many billionaires.

  9. Eshelman may not be from Wyoming, but it appears he has a compulsion that deserves the famous Wyoming film quote: “I wish I knew how to quit you.”

  10. Very Trumpian. Like defendant Trump, this guy is attempting to sue his critics into silence.

  11. Why do people like Edelman think they can break or use their own country’s laws to suit themselves? Oh, that’s right. Because as I view what Edelman is doing (and the actions of people like him) the only conclusion I can come to is that they thinks their money gives them that inalienable right. Furthermore they thinks everyone can be bought or intimidated to support that belief. They don’t like it when a ‘little man’ expresses anything that challenges their own distorted world view of themselves and their power base. The jury of ‘little men’ already did that so now Edelman goes after someone he sees as just a nuisance insect to squash and send a message to everyone else while massaging his bruised ego. I think I am allowed to state my opinion of how I view his behavior and motivations under the 1st Amendment but not if Edelman has his way! Hopefully J. Doe and Google will not have to defend their rights under the 1st Amendment further.

  12. Speaking of law suits, when is someone going to file a complaint against Wyoming Game and Fish and Carbon County Attorney Davis for failure to file hunter harassment charges against Steve Grende and the organization he represents? W.S. 23-3-405. Interference with lawful taking of wildlife prohibited; penalties; damages; injunction, makes it illegal to interfere with the lawful taking of game. The actions of Steve Grende certainly appear to violate several sections of W.S. 23-3-405. Why is the chief law enforcement officer of Carbon County and WY G&F ignoring this?

    1. Excellent point! Maybe back country hunters and anglers would like to lead this charge! In reality money wins most of the time. This scumbag would sue the GF and sheriff and if nothing else cost them to hire attorney.

  13. “In my opinion” this all seems very petty of Eshelman considering much worse has been said about him (minus the profanity) right here on WYO Files comment section. Going after a singe person who, also in my opinion, wasn’t wrong in their opinion of Eshelman, kind of supports his claim about using his wealth and perceived political clout to strong arm people to get his way.

  14. Wyoming has become a mecca for the super rich.

    Odd bedfellows for what once was?? Or just a regurgitation of the Johnson County Wars..

    1. Speaking of the super-rich, have you read Billionaire Wilderness by Justin Farrell?
      A great read about some of Wyoming richest who also happen to be some of the world’s richest. Your library probably has a copy.

  15. It’s obvious what the corner crossing lawsuit was about and how victory was given in a court decision and its also obvious that people form opinions on the actions of these who bring these cases to court. But that is America 🇺🇸 and we as Americans are allowed certain rights and our own opinions which are sometimes the facts sometimes a dream. Hats off to Missouri 4, StoptheSteal and Durham just my opinion of it all.

  16. Mr. Eshelman needs to give it a rest — to come to an understanding of the meaning of the word “no”. Money will buy you a pretty good dog, but it won’t buy the wag of his tail!

  17. It doesn’t matter if eshelman puts on a different wig and a bigger red nose. A clown is still a clown.

  18. I have followed the Eshelman/Corner Crossing issue closely. While much of Mr. Eshelman’s conduct and strategy, including pressuring the Carbon County Sheriff and Prosecutor, is reprehensible. But, Doe strays too far into incivility and hostile language. Doe seems to mix the Corner Crossing matter with his hatred of all things Trumpian. His comments would not have met the test for publication in WyoFile.

    Doe should simply apologize and acknowledge his/her “over the top” behavior in the same email chain in which the juvenile diatribe was written.

    As for ranch manager Steve Grende. He needs more work than Eshelman’s 6 degrees PR can provide. He needs 180 degrees PR training. Anytime you lead your argument with “do you know how much money my boss has”, it’s likely to go downhill.

    Thank Angus. Your coverage of all things “corner crossing” has been informative and entertaining.

  19. Does this shows how he feels about the first amendment rights of others? Of course, his own rights he wants protected to the max. But what about the rights of others to speak freely? Should wealth be used to intimidate and thereby suppress the rights of others?

  20. Fred, you can’t even defeat four lil’ ole’ hunters from Missouri but now you think you can overturn the 1st Amendment? You created your own reputation and frankly, this sole loser act is getting old. Fred, you’re yesterday’s news. I imagine you will also sue all the news agencies (such as wyofile) that exposed your shenanigans. Just……go away