Courts & Crime

Florida couple gets partial green light on Petraeus case lawsuit

January 30, 2010, Jill Kelley
January 30, 2010, Jill Kelley Tampa Bay Times/MCT

A Florida couple who got caught up in the spectacular public flameout of former CIA Director David Petraeus’s career can continue to pursue part of their lawsuit against federal officials, a judge ruled Monday.

Tampa residents Gilberte Jill Kelley and Dr. Scott Kelley say, in their complaint, that “they became the target of an unreasonable and intrusive investigation, and a malicious smear campaign where their names, emails, and damaging (as well as false) information were leaked to the media.”

All this, the Kelleys say, happened after they told an FBI official about “anonymous and troubling” e-mails received from a woman who has since been identified as Petraeus’s one-time paramour, Paula Broadwell.

In her 76-page decision, Judge Amy Berman Jackson dismissed most of the complaint, with some severe words.

“The amended complaint is a long, overwrought, and argumentative document, and its 225 paragraphs are full of indignation while being thin on facts,” Jackson wrote.

Nonetheless, Jackson concluded that the Kelleys “have alleged enough facts to support a plausible Privacy Act claim for disclosures to the media.”

“Providing information to the media is not among the list of permissible disclosures listed in the Privacy Act,” Jackson wrote. “While it may prove to be the case that the media sensationalized the facts and seasoned its coverage of these events with sexual innuendo on its own, plaintiffs do point to several press accounts that identify the sources as unnamed government or military officials.”

The Kelleys are seeking an apology and unspecified monetary damages.