Judge rejects bid by Northstar to have suit filed by Amazon dismissed

Brian Watson, CEO of Northstar Commercial Partners, has denied wrongdoing. (BizDen file)

A federal judge in Virginia has denied a bid by Denver-based Northstar Commercial Partners to have a lawsuit filed against the company by Amazon dismissed.

In an order issued last week, Judge Liam O’Grady said arguments raised by Northstar CEO Brian Watson and other defendants in their respective motions filed in the fall were simply “premature.”

“Defendants’ attacks on those factual assertions, even where they are possibly supported by the evidentiary record, must be saved until after the parties have completed discovery,” the judge wrote.

In the lawsuit first filed late last April, and subsequently updated multiple times, Amazon accused Northstar of paying kickbacks to two now-former Amazon employees in exchange for securing deals to develop data centers in Virginia for the company. Amazon first learned of the situation when someone emailed Jeff Bezos.

The FBI has also been investigating, and seized items from Watson’s Cherry Hills Village home last April.

Watson filed his 50-page motion to dismiss Amazon’s lawsuit in October. The two ex-Amazon employees, Casey Kirschner and Carleton Nelson, also filed separate motions to dismiss the case the same day.

Stan Garnett of Brownstein Hyatt, who is representing Watson, told BusinessDen Friday that Watson “looks forward to resolving the case on the merits.”

In his order last week, O’Grady also denied a separate request by Kirschner and Nelson to have the case moved to Washington state. Nelson lives in Seattle, and Amazon is based in the city as well.

“To force plaintiffs to litigate this matter in the Western District of Washington would be seriously inconvenient,” O’Grady wrote. “No court in Washington would be able to establish personal jurisdiction over any of the other defendants in the case because all the events giving rise to the dispute took place in Virginia.”

Kirschner lives in Minneapolis, according to court records, although he grew up in and previously worked in the Denver area. Watson, meanwhile, listed his Cherry Hills Village home for sale in December, 10 months after buying it.

While Watson has been playing defense in the case with Amazon, he went on the offensive in December, suing a partner that ousted him on the data center development deals after he was questioned by the FBI.

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