In filings yesterday regarding the Dickson v. Gospel for Asia RICO lawsuit, Gospel for Asia’s lawyers claim lawyers for Matthew and Jennifer Dickson improperly brought action against a group of GFA employees without specifying their part in the alleged fraud. GFA’s attorneys do not argue the merits of the allegations but rather ask the court to dismiss the suit because such cases must designate how each person participated in fraudulent activities.
Group pleading defenses generally serve the purpose of making it harder to bring suits when individual agency cannot be identified. Plaintiffs are in a bind, they need discovery to prove the extent of coordinated fraud or cover-up of fraud but a court must accept a group pleading doctrine in order to get to discovery. In any case, in my view, the plaintiffs’ lawyers have provided more than enough evidence to proceed to trial against all defendants. To me as a layman, GFA’s response looks like a lawyerly way to avoid facing the evidence.
GFA’s attorneys also defend the arbitration agreement signed by the Dicksons while GFA employees. GFA argues that the Dicksons should be compelled to arbitrate because their donations to GFA were a part of their employment. All employees are expected to donate to GFA which makes disputes arising from their donations a part of the binding arbitration agreement.
I hope this argument doesn’t persuade the court to compel the Dicksons into arbitration. GFA is essentially arguing that employees have no rights and must be compelled to arbitrate allegedly illegal actions on the part of GFA. GFA also argues that their staff must donate to GFA and have no independent existence as a donor. On a related note, those considering working for a Christian ministry should read these agreements carefully. Arbitration agreements should not serve to shield an organization from whistle blowing.
Background articles on the GFA RICO suit
May 10, 2016 Reply to Response to Motion – GFA seeks to compel arbitration
May 10, 2016 Reply to Response to Motion – GFA asks court to dismiss suit
GFA RICO suit filed (2/8/16)
Details about RICO suit (2/9/16)
Statement from GFA board blaming bloggers (2/12/16)
Response from GFA’s lawyers (4/21/16)
Response from plaintiffs to GFA’s Motions to Dismiss and Compel Arbitration (4/19/16)
In court filings Monday, Gospel for Asia denied all allegations of wrong doing, asked the court to compel the plaintiffs Matthew and Jennifer Dickson to enter into arbitration to settle their dispute and/or to dismiss the suit.
In February, Matthew and Jennifer Dickson brought sued GFA alleging fraud and mismanagement on behalf of themselves and the class of GFA donors. On Monday, GFA’s lawyers responded with denials, a motion to dismiss the suit and a demand that the Dicksons enter arbitration. The GFA legal response included signed agreements by the Dicksons while they were GFA employees which included a clause stating they wouldn’t sue over disputes but rather enter arbitration.
GFA’s response concludes:
Defendants [GFA leaders] pray that arbitration be ordered, or, alternatively, that judgment be entered that Plaintiffs take nothing by this suit against any of the Defendants, that class certification be denied, that all relief prayed for by Plaintiffs in this action be denied, and that Defendants be granted such other and further relief, at law and in equity, to which they may be justly entitled. DATED: April 15, 2016.