Koch Exec Says Cops Back Kidnapping Story | Courthouse News Service
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Koch Exec Says Cops Back Kidnapping Story

(CN) - A man who says the billionaire William Koch imprisoned him at an Aspen ranch slammed the industrialist for filing a "misleading" motion to dismiss.

In an October 2012 federal complaint, Kirby Martensen said he was suddenly fired this past March after serving as an executive for several companies owned and controlled by Koch, including Oxbow Carbon & Minerals.

Koch founded the Oxbow Group in the 1980s after leaving his family's oil-refining conglomerate, Koch Industries. Oxbow Carbon is the largest distributor of petroleum coke in the world.

Martensen, of Berkeley, Calif., filed the lawsuit in the Northern District of California.

He said his termination occurred after Koch learned that he had uncovered an alleged plot by Oxbow Carbon to evade $200 million a year in federal taxes.

Koch then used "false pretenses" to lure Martensen and other executives to Bear Ranch, his secluded property near Aspen, and interrogate him for several hours, according to the complaint.

In a Jan. 16 motion to dismiss, Koch accused Martensen of working to defraud Oxbow and filing the complaint to divert attention.

Koch also claims that as a Florida resident, he cannot be sued in the Northern District of California lacks jurisdiction over Koch, a Florida resident. The brief also notes that the ranch where the alleged kidnapping occurred is in Colorado.

Opposing that motion last week, Martensen noted that the Colorado Bureau of Investigation has proof that Koch "planned and directed the false imprisonment."

Undersheriff Randy Barnes allegedly had the bureau investigate the activities of Gunnison County Deputy Sheriff Clarence Hart after the media reported on Martensen's lawsuit.

The report found that Koch had hired Hart to stand guard at the ranch on the day of the interrogation, Martensen said. He said the report also backs up his claim that Koch "purposefully had phone service and Internet access at the ranch turned off for the express purpose of preventing his employees from any outside contacts."

Hart allegedly admitted that Koch paid him $50 an hour "to be at the ranch while some employees were being fired."

Hart then tampered with his "mileage log to conceal the fact that he performed a private security job in his patrol vehicle," according to the opposition brief.

Martensen said Hart has been placed on administrative leave and stripped of his gun and badge.

Hart reported that he was instructed to park behind the cabin and that he saw "two people being escorted to the cabin that day, and at the time he thought they may have been terminated employees," according to the motion.

He added that Koch had also brought in a security detail of eight or nine men from Florida for the interrogation.

Martensen said this evidence more than meet the "actual or ostensible" standard that the men were agents of Koch.

He adds that Koch did not need to have exact knowledge of the men's activities.

Precedent dictates that, "to be liable, each participant in the conspiracy need not know the exact details of the plan, but each participant must at least share the common objective of the conspiracy," according to the brief.

Martensen said this evidence also supports his claim for punitive damages since the "actions as alleged in this case are the very definition of evil motive and intent, and a callous indifference toward Mr. Martensen's constitutional rights."

Jurisdiction is also proper in California since Martensen is a California resident and his forcible imprisonment did not end until Koch returned him to California soil, according to the brief.

Martensen said that he worked in Oxbow's Pleasant Hill, Calif., offices at the time of the alleged misconduct.

"Most of the witnesses who will support Mr. Martensen's allegations live in California, i.e., five former Oxbow employees who worked in California and were also terminated in Colorado," the brief states.

Martensen also accused Koch of "misleading" the court in saying that he does not "regularly" travel to California, and that he does not own, and never has owned, any real property in California.

"Koch has exceptionally significant contacts with California, particularly for non-California resident," the brief states. "California courts have a vested interest in providing a forum to redress wrongs perpetrated against its citizenry, whether committed by other Californians, or residents of another state. Mr. Koch is the owner and ultimate authority pertaining to Oxbow operations. Mr. Koch is the founder and chairman of Oxbow. He controls and directs all aspects of Oxbow's California operations, which result in huge annual profits."

Though Koch said it would be "more burdensome" for him to litigate in California than in Colorado or Florida, Martensen pointed out that Forbes lists Koch as "one of the wealthiest men in America."

Precedent states that "requiring a nonresident to defend locally is not unconstitutional 'in this era of fax machines and discount air travel,'" the brief states.

San Francisco attorney John Houston Scott wrote the brief for Martensen.

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