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Rickett v. Smith

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division

October 31, 2014

JOHN

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOSEPH H. McKINLEY, Jr., Chief District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendant Donald E. Smith and Phoenix Synergies, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss [DN 5] and Motion to Strike Affidavits, Exhibits, and Allegations [DN 14]. Fully briefed, these matters are ripe for review.

I. BACKGROUND

This action arises out of alleged defamatory statements made over internet radio about Plaintiff John "Jack" Rickett ("Rickett"). Rickett alleges that the defamatory statements first appeared on the website maintained by Defendant Phoenix Synergies, Inc. ("PSI") on May 23, 2014. The statement is as follow:

COMPANY NEWS

STATEMENT FROM BOARD OF DIRECTORS

RE: Doug Mitchell and John "Jack" Rickett

Mr. Mitchell was offered a position with the company and respectfully declined the offering.

Mr. Rickett temporarily served in the position of President of the company pending its formation.

Mr. Rickett's position was provisional and he failed to meet the provisions required by a temporary officer.

Mr. Rickett does not now nor has he ever had ownership interest, stock or otherwise, in Phoenix Synergies Inc., a Texas Corporation.

Through the normal course of business, it was discovered that Mr. Rickett had previously sold and assigned his patents and ideas to several other companies and or individuals prior to making arraignments to sell same to Phoenix Synergies Inc.

(PSI)

The Board of Directors of PSI was finally able to track down the patents and secure them from other parties and has since filed the clean patents in the name of the company. When confronted by this information, Mr. Rickett was found to be oblique or unresponsive as to how he initially obtained the original idea.

Mr. Rickett received a substantial amount of money while he consistently acted outside of his authority and the provisional parameters of his position.

His actions were unauthorized, counter-productive and if allowed to continue could have been seriously damaging to the company and the upstanding reputations of the Officers, Board of Directors and owners.

Thus Mr. Rickett was released by the Board of Directors.

[Compl., DN 1, at 5-6]. On the same day, David Rice, host of the blogtalk radio show "Phoenix Rising Radio, " read the statement that appeared on the website. Plaintiff further alleges that the following occurred on the radio show:

[D]uring the May 23, 2014 radio show Mr. Rice implied having inside knowledge about recent events at PSI and told his audience that the company had been doing a lot of things behind the scenes and that things were kind of slow and being held back because of the internal issues and problems with the company, but that those problems have now been resolved. Further, Mr. Rice stated words to the effect of [there are] a lot of people out there in the world who would take advantage of good people. Evil succeeds when good men and women do nothing or say nothing. All of these comments by Mr. Rice were understood by the audience to be in reference to the Plaintiff and his dismissal by PSI.

[Compl., DN 1, at 6].

Plaintiff Rickett claims his relationship with PSI began in November of 2013 when Defendant Donald Smith contacted Plaintiff concerning his patents for styrofoam reclamation technology. Plaintiff, a self-taught engineer and inventor, created technology to recycle styrofoam into plastic pellets that resulted in two different patents, Patent U.S. 6, 663, 773 B1 and Patent U.S. 6, 890, 437 B2 (hereinafter, "Patents"). The Patents were first held by Densified Solutions LLC and then they were acquired by Jack Schoenthaler after the bankruptcy of Densified Solutions.

In December of 2013, Plaintiff alleges that Smith drove to Kentucky to meet with him and to discuss the formation of PSI. Smith told Plaintiff that he formed PSI with others who knew about styrofoam reclamation and that he intended to raise enough capital to purchase the Patents held by Jack Schoenthaler. According to Plaintiff, during that meeting, Smith also hired him to be the president of PSI for $2000 a month and provided him with a computer and printer to perform work for the company. However, as explained by Plaintiff, his duties and ...


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