Koch Imprisonment Case|Will Remain in California

     (CN) – Billionaire industrialist William Koch must face a California lawsuit related to his alleged imprisonment of a fired executive, a federal judge ruled.
     Kirby Martensen sued Koch initially in October 2012 in the Northern District of California, but Koch has cried improper venue since the events transpired in Colorado and since he maintains a residence in Florida.
     U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley refused to dismiss or transfer the complaint on Tuesday, summarizing the allegations of the first amended complaint.
     Martensen said he and five other executives of the Koch-owned Oxbow Group were lured to the billionaire’s Bear Ranch in Aspen on the pretense of a company getaway and were then fired.
     The firing allegedly coincided with Martensen’s discovery that “the company’s business efforts in Asia included implementing a plan to evade paying taxes to the United States on profits in excess of $200,000,000 per year,” according to Corley’s summary of the case.
     Koch allegedly discovered that Martensen and other executives “had expressed concern over the legality of what they were doing on behalf of Oxbow and their distrust of upper management,” then hatched “a plan to intimidate and discredit plaintiff for the purpose of chilling his speech and damaging his credibility,” the opinion states.
     Martensen said Koch had been investigating him after receiving an anonymous letter that said Martensen and another employee Larry Black had been stealing from the company. Koch then allegedly “directed a comprehensive forensic review of thousands of documents,” the opinion states.
     At the ranch, each executive allegedly faced several hours of interrogation, guarded by Koch’s private security detail and local police , according to the complaint. Martensen said his escorts refused his request to go the Apsen airport, which was nearby, so he could catch a flight he already booked to San Francisco. They instead drove him over 200 miles to the Denver airport and placed him on a private plane to Oakland. Though the alleged captors allegedly tried in Oakland to make Martensen get in a car that would take him to a nearby Marriot Courtyard Hotel, Martensen said he evaded them by having an airport employee call him a cab.
     Though Martensen’s alleged detention in California was minimal, Koh said this does not make venue improper.
     Because Martensen alleges that his request to be driven to Aspen was denied, “it can be inferred that transporting plaintiff to California – and insuring he did not remain free in Colorado – was a motive, if not the motive, giving rise to the alleged false imprisonment,” the ruling states.
     Koh nevertheless tossed Martensen’s conspiracy claim under Section 1983 of federal law because the complaint “does not adequately allege that there was an agreement or ‘meeting of the minds’ between the sheriff’s deputies and defendant, or defendant’s agents, to falsely imprison plaintiff.”
     “The court’s conclusion that plaintiff does not adequately allege a Section 1983 conspiracy claim does not disrupt its findings above regarding Plaintiff’s state law claims,” Koh added. “While the deputies may have been unaware of cefendant’s false imprisonment – and, in fact, may have been mere pawns in Defendant’s misconduct – plaintiff has adequately alleged that there was a separate conspiracy between defendant and his agents to falsely imprison Plaintiff, and that they did falsely imprison plaintiff.”
     Martensen can also still pursue punitive damages, according to the ruling.

%d bloggers like this: