Judge to Throw Out Shriners' Defamation Lawsuit? Part 19
Mon Nov 12, 2007
news, corruption, donations, shriners, whistleblowers, defamation, charitable-funds, lawlsuitSandy Frost
Disclaimer: On September 1, 2006, both Shriners charitable and fraternal corporations filed a complaint alleging defamation against Shriner whistleblower Vernon Hill and Charity Watch Center, an online watchdog site, owned and operated by Paul Dolnier, a former IRS agent. A "First Request for Production of Documents" included emails, letters, notes, phone records, etc., between both Hill and Charity Watch Center and me.
It appears that the Shriners' defamation lawsuit and demand for jury trial may be thrown out of court because they have done nothing about it for the past ten months.
On November 6, 2007, the Clerk of the Thirteenth Circuit court of Hillsborough County, Florida, filed a "Notice of Intent to Dismiss" the Shriners v James Vernon Hill and Charity Watch Center (CWC) lawsuit because of "lack of prosecution." (1)
This means that for the past ten months, the Shriners have not pursued the case. Noting this, the clerk of the court sent out the "Notice of Intent to Dismiss" to all parties, letting them know that a hearing was scheduled for January 18, 2008 at 9 a.m. before the honorable Judge Charlene E. Honeywell.
The Shriners can try to keep the case alive if they can "show good cause in writing at least 5 days before the hearing on the motion why the action should remain pending."
The complaint can be read here.
The plaintiff's first request for documents can be read here.
The Shriners accused Hill of creating the Charity Watch Center with Dolnier and that both "used the CWC web site and emails to publish false and defamatory information about the plaintiffs."
The Shriners claimed "these publications falsely communicate to the public that there are facts which would support the messages that the Plaintiffs are violating the law by not properly using or applying contributed funds; that there is corruption within Shriners that has led to investigations by law enforcement agencies; and that money donated for charitable purposes is being used for non-charitable purposes."
The last recorded activity was on December 13, 2006, when Judge Honeywell granted the Shriners' motion to strike Charity Watch Center's pro se answer, filed because, according to Dolnier, he could not afford to hire an attorney.
Prior to that, on October 16, 2006, Hill's attorney, David M. Snyder, filed a "Motion to Dismiss Based on Limited Appearance Challenging Jurisdiction," arguing that the Florida court lacked jurisdiction because Hill lives and works in North Carolina. No hearing has been set to argue this motion.
If the Shriners continue doing nothing for the next 60 days, "the action shall be dismissed by the court on its own motion."
The defendants had no comment, except Hill reports that he had a stroke in early October. Calls to the Shriners' attorney Donovan Conwell remain unanswered.
(1) "Dismissal of Actions," Florida circuit court rule 1.420 (e) "Failure to Prosecute" states:
"In all actions in which it appears on the face of the record that no activity by filing of pleadings, order of court, or otherwise has occurred for a period of 10 months, and no order staying the action has been issued nor stipulation for stay approved by the court, any interested person, whether a party to the action or not, the court, or the clerk of the court may serve notice to all parties that no such activity has occurred."
Sandy FrostThank you OF. I certainly appreciate your encouragement. While trying to put not too fine a point on it, I included the disclaimer because it appears that the Shriners attempted to circumvent Florida's Reporter Shield Laws by requesting communications between me and the whistleblowers. The Shriners have a long history of punishing, kicking out and "trying" those who ask financial questions. Their tax returns show that, at the very least, the Shriners may be guilty of tax fraud. The tax returns include those filed by Shriners Hospitals for Children, the 501c3 charity, and those filed by the Imperial Council, the 501c10 fraternal network. Irregularities abound up and down both corporate food chains.