Kent E. Hovind v. RationalMedia Foundation

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Kent E. Hovind v. Rational Media Foundation is a pro se lawsuit filed by convicted felon Kent Hovind, while in federal prison, against the RationalMedia Foundation (though calling it by its previous name, the RationalWiki Foundation) based on claims he made about the article on him.[1] The claim specifically referenced this revision by including the entire text of the article. It was filed with the court on February 24, 2014, but never had summons issued, and hence was never served. In December 2015, a federal judge dismissed the case for failure to serve.[2]

The complaint referenced the foundation by name along with a number of John Doe editors seeking a retraction of certain phrases in the article; specifically:

"Hovind is a young Earth creationist and convicted tax fraudster"

"[H]ovind has filed numerous legal claims with Matthews' help, including fraudulent liens on property the US government seized for his debt".

Hovind sought a sum of $2.5 million from the RationalMedia Foundation and a further $2.5 million from the "John Doe author" of that article, for damages to his reputation.

The following is the unedited text of the complaint, case 3:14-cv-00094-RV-CJK:

Kent E Hovind

06452-017
Berlin Federal Prison Camp
PO BOX 9000
Berlin,NH 03570

2/19/2014

Re: New Complaint for Filing

Dear Clerk of the Court:
Please file the attached complaint and send me a case number so that I can mail the court a check for the filing fee once I have the case number to place on the check. The two defendants in the case are:

1. The RationalWiki Foundation
122 Girard Boulevard
Albuquerque, NM 87106

2. John doe Author - will obtain their address through discovery

Thank you for your assistance.
Respectfully
[Signed]
Kent E Hovind
ps: please return to the plaintiff a file stamped copy of the first page of this complaint in the self addressed stamped envelope.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA

Kent E Hovind
plaintiff

v.

The RationalWiki Foundation,et al
defendants

Complaint For Libel,Libel Per Se, And Injurious Falsehood

1. At all times in this complaint Kent E Hovind, plaintiff, was a resident of the county of Escambia in the state of Florida.

2. The defendants in this complaint, The RationalWiki Foundation and john doe author, are residents of the states of New Mexico and other western states,and are not residents of the state of Florida.

3. Based upon the complete diversity of the parties and the amount in controversy exceeding $75,000.00 this court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 USC 1332(a).

4. On February 8th,2014, the defendants published false and defamatory statements on the RationalWiki internet site alleging that the plaintiff had filed fraudulent liens on property the US government seized to pay his tax debts, and of being a "convicted tax fraudster."

5. Fraud and Conspiring to Commit Fraud is a crime in Florida ,where libel per se,libel, and injurious falsehood require a person to establish that (1) the statements were published;(2) falsity;(3) the actor acted with knowledge or reckless disregard as to the falsity of matters concerning a public official, or at least negligently concerning a private person;(4)damages;(5) a defamatory statement.

6. Upon entering a google search of the plaintiff's name, the false and defamatory statements can be seen in the State of Florida, as well as in the United States and internationally. The false statements are attached here as Appendix A.

7. The "fraudulent" liens that the defendants make reference to are four Lis Pendens Memorandums what were filed by supporters of the plaintiff, who is a Christian evangelist preacher with a worldwide following. The plaintiff did not file the liens referenced, and in fact could not file the liens based upon his present incarcerated status. The plaintiff did not send the liens to the court to be filed, and in fact could not have filed the liens given that such liens must be filed in person at the county Land Records office.

8. A lis pendens is a legal notice of litigation pending, and can only be filed in relation to pending litigation in a court of law whereby the person filing the lis pendens asserts a claim against the title of the real estate upon which the lis pendens has been filed.

9. In this case, the United States moved the court to discharge the four liens and for an order to show cause why Kent E Hovind shouldn't be held in contempt for filing the liens or causing them to be filed.

10. In the judge's order responding to the United States' motion the word fraud is never mentioned- The judge order is shown here as Appendix B. Furthermore, the court itself never made reference to the liens being fraudulent, which the court could not given that the lawsuit underlying the liens is a pending suit in the US District Court for the District of South Carolina , Case No 0:13-1177-t-ltl,-PJG. Under the South Carolina suit filed by Kent E Hovind, the court cleared the suit suit through its initial PLRA 1915 screening, has ordered and had the US Marshall's serve the defendants, and is now going through discovery and the United States' motion to dismiss.

11. The four liens themselves were filed and recorded in the Escambia County Florida state court where the properties are located, and were not held to be fraudulent or improper by that state court.

12. The judge's order in Appendix B never calls the liens fraudulent, only holding that they were "improperly filed", and only held that the United States MAY have a basis for a contempt order, while ultimately denying the government's request to hold the plaintiff in contempt.

12. In Appendix C the plaintiff responds to the United States' motion and makes clear that he was never served actual or constructive notice of its 6/27/2012 order, nor was he a named defendant in that 6/27/2012 order. On 6/27/2012 the plaintiff not only was not given notice of the initial court order, he also had not been given notice that the CSE members who filed the liens were enjoined from filing additional liens on the properties at question.
13. The four lis pendens not only were not held to be fraudulent by the Escambia County Florida court which filed them, those liens are still on the title of the properties in question ,despite the order to have them lifted.

14. The statements against the plaintiff posted on RationalWiki are thus patently false, and allege an action by the plaintiff which is impossible given his current incarceration. In so posting those statements the defendants knowingly, willfully, and maliciously sought to injure the plaintiff by publishing the statements, seeking without grounds to destroy the plaintiff's well being and to further damage the plaintiff's reputation-based only upon their abhorance of the plaintiff, Kent E. Hovind, the ultimate target of their campaign of smear and libel. The plaintiff is informed and believes,and on that basis alleges, that the defendants' tortious conduct and illegal acts were done in furtherance of their malicious aim, all to the plaintiff's damage, as alleged.

15. The defendants acted with reckless disregard for the truth or falsity of their statements against the plaintiff, and had actual knowledge that their false and malicious claims would have injurious impact upon the plaintiff's reputation.

CLAIM FOR RELIEF


16. Plaintiff re-alleges and incorporates paragraphs 1-15 as if restated in full.

17. On 2/8/2014, the defendants published the following false and defamatory statements on the RationalWiki internet site:

" Hovind is a young earth,creationist and a convicted tax fraudster"
"[H]ovind has filed numerous legal claims with Matthews's help, including FRAUDULENT liens on property the US government seized for his debt"

18. The above statement is false, defamatory, and injurious because:
a. The statement wrongfully accuses the plaintiff of committing crimes under the law of Florida, based upon him allegedly iling "fraudulent" liens on properties seized from him in the state of Florida, the liens themselves never deemed fraudulent by any court of law, and the plaintiff unable to in any instance be able to file those liens due to his current incarceration.

b. While as a matter of fact the plaintiff didn't file the liens in question, the liens themselves have never been deemed fraudulent, the US district court only holding that they were improperly filed but never alleging that the liens themselves were fraudulent. The court's order against the standing of Kent E Hovind or his supporters to file the liens is also inconsistent where it seized the properties as forfeiture based upon his interest in them in 2006, but now claims that he has no basis upon which to assert his prior interest which the court itself previously declared. Nonetheless, the defendants allege the plaintiff's involvement in filing the liens, which is false, and the defendant's very characterization of the liens themselves is false and defamatory.

c. The statements expose the plaintiff to contempt and are so understood by those who read the statement to have the defamatory meaning ascribed to it in this complaint, and the defendants intended the statements to be so understood by those who read the statements.

d. The defendants failed to in any way investigate the truth or falsity of their statement before publishing them on the RationalWiki internet site.

e. The defendants' reckless and tortious conduct also unjustly and falsely exposed the already incarcerated plaintiff to further criminal liability, all based on their animosity towards the plaintiff based on his religious and scientific beliefs, their entire RationalWiki article itself having abandoned it scientific facade and attacking the plaintiff with vile insults.

f. As a result of the defendants' false and defamatory statements the plaintiff has experienced further loss to his reputation, as well as having been unjustly and falsely exposed to additional criminal liability for actions unrelated to him and actions not deemed fraudulent under any court of law. The defendants' actions were done with a wanton and reckless disregard for the consequences they would have on the plaintiff.

g. The plaintiff was not convicted of "tax fraud", he was convicted of failure to pay withholding tax and structuring; which are not fraud crimes under the US Code.

PRAYER

The plaintiff requests the following relief from the defendants :
A. $2,500,000.00 jointly and severally against each defendant.
B. A retraction of the false and defamatory statements.
C. Any further relief deemed just and proper by the court.

Respectfully,
[Signed and dated 2-19-2014]
Kent E Hovind
06452-017
Berlin Federal Prison Camp
PO BOX 9000

Berlin,NH 03570

Resolution

In 2015, a federal judge dismissed the case and had the court clerk close the file:[3]

ORDER

This cause comes on for consideration upon the magistrate judge’s Report and Recommendation dated November 18, 2015 (doc. 17). Plaintiff has not been afforded a copy of the Report and Recommendation because he has not provided the court with an updated address since his release from federal custody. Nevertheless, having considered the Report and Recommendation, I have determined that it should be adopted.
Accordingly, it is now ORDERED as follows:
1. The magistrate judge’s Report and Recommendation is adopted and incorporated by reference in this order.
2.Plaintiff’s complaint (doc. 1) is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE for plaintiff’s failure to prosecute and failure to keep the court apprised of his mailing address, so that this matter might proceed in an orderly fashion.
3. The clerk is directed to close the file.
DONE AND ORDERED this 18th day of December, 2015.

ROGER VINSON

SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Footnotes