Mars Hill RICO: Hail Mary Failed – Plaintiffs Agree to Dismiss

I am very thankful that this civil RICO litigation will soon be over as the Plaintiffs have asked the court to dismiss the case since they failed to serve me.  The Plaintiffs along with other parties and their counsel have threatened many people beside myself with this lawsuit since early 2014.  Brian Fahling, Plaintiff’s counsel, first presented this RICO strategy to a group of former Mars Hill members as a way to stop the implementation of a new email retention policy.  As time wore on, these former members wanted to hurt Mark Driscoll and control the dissolution of Mars Hill Church.  As I stated previously, if they wanted information, reconciliation, and answers, they would have met with me in March or April of 2016.   A civil RICO claim cannot be filed against an institution (Mars Hill Church) or a single person (Mark Driscoll).  A civil RICO claim requires at least two defendants.  Agreeing to meet with me and reconcile would mean abandoning their RICO litigation against Mark Driscoll or at least severely alter their strategy.

Plaintiffs solicited people to join the lawsuit and communicated it would take $250k to go through with the litigation.  However, when they filed the lawsuit they only had raised less than $30,000 and the last gift given before the lawsuit was filed was seven months prior (July 2015).  Of the $39k given to support the lawsuit to date, only 4% was given by named people, the rest was matching (by whom we don’t know), anonymous, or a family member of the Jacobsens.   Filing the lawsuit was a failed Hail Mary attempt by the Jacobsens, Kildeas, and Brian Fahling that has significantly hurt and defamed me.

Today, all of the responses had to be into the Judge for his decision in this case.  In the plaintiff’s response, they agreed to a dismissal of the case.  They had 90 days to serve me in the litigation.  They state they did not have enough money to serve me.  They did have enough money to create a 42-page document containing false allegations that were not attested to under oath.  They would like a dismissal without prejudice, which allows them to keep the door open to future litigation against me.

My attorney presented the following response to the Judge today again arguing for dismissal with prejudice (a complete and final dismissal) and sanctions.  Here are a couple of highlights:

  • The Plaintiffs defend that the Jacobsens did not have the ability to fund the lawsuit. However, “the Jacobsens live on the 3rd hole of TPC Snoqualmie in a house valued at just under $1 million dollars by Zillow.  Claiming poverty to pursue this case is an attempt to garner sympathy that should not be given.  Jacobsen is 62 years old, worked at a prestigious law firm in Seattle for almost 22 years and is presumably retired as opposed to looking for work as is inferred in the brief.  He is hardly poor and unemployed and such a claim is an insult to those struggling financially.”
  • “There was no urgency. The statute of limitations is 4 years and was nowhere near the four-year mark.   Furthermore, if the Plaintiffs knew they only had 90 days to collect fees and get this lawsuit served then they should have dismissed voluntarily the case at the 90 day mark which was on the Tuesday following Memorial day.  Instead they consciously chose to leave the case open knowing that the time had passed.  It was irresponsible and a deliberate decision to defame Mr. Turner and label him a racketeer without ever giving an opportunity to Mr. Turner to clear his name.”
  • “Thanks to the Plaintiffs, Mr. Turner has been labeled a “racketeer” just with the filing of the lawsuit. Undoubtedly this stigma of labeling Mr. Turner was made with a purpose to disparage him and perhaps to orchestrate an early settlement.  The plaintiffs apparently believed they would have no repercussions and Mr. Fahling apparently thought there was nothing improper about filing a lawsuit with allegations of racketeering knowing that he would never actually serve the lawsuit.”

Finally, some important information about how people have used a “RICO” charge in the past to hurt people and defame their character.

  • Because of its criminal purpose, the “mere assertion of a [civil] RICO claim… has an almost inevitable stigmatizing effect on those named as defendants.”  Katzman v. Victoria’s Secret Catalogue, 167 F.R.D. 649, 655 (S.D.N.Y. 1996),aff’d, 113 F.3d 1229 (2d Cir. 1997).  As a result, “[c]ivil RICO is an unusually potent weapon—the litigation equivalent of a thermonuclear device.”  Id. Link
  • A survey of 145 appellate decisions nationwide rendered from 1999 to 2001 in connection with RICO civil actions provides hard evidence of those failed expectations. It revealed that about 70 percent of the cases were finally disposed of on defendants’ motions to dismiss or for summary judgment, and that in about 80 percent of those in which the appellate Court resolved a RICO issue the ruling was favorable to defendants. See Pamela H. Bucy, Private Justice, 76 S. Cal. L. Rev. 1, 22 (2002).
  • Of the 9.6 percent of the suits in which plaintiffs obtained a favorable verdict after a jury trial, only 25 percent of the judgments were affirmed on appeal.  See id. In consequence, plaintiffs achieved a final victory in only three of 145 cases — a final success rate of a mere two percent. Link
  • Branding defendants in civil actions with searing accusations of racketeering activities and thus prolonging ill-considered litigation to promote the private interests of only one or a few victims, and in lawsuits arising from alleged fraudulent schemes limited to localized impacts and wrongful conduct far afield from the dimensions and degree of serious criminal offenses Congress had in mind as RICO violations(emphasis added), is bound to engender disfavor from courts and juries alike. In such circumstances, the courts’ responses to litigants’ efforts to stretch the contours of the law beyond reasonable bounds “emerges from a desire to make the statute make sense and have some limits.” Fitzgerald v. Chrysler Corp. , 116 F.3d 225, 226 (7th Cir. 1997). Link

— Sutton Turner

 

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