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Tarter lawsuit defendants dislike plaintiff’s response language that they feel accuses them of a crime

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By Charlie VanLeuven

Defendants in a case involving the largest employer in Casey County say the plaintiffs are purposefully and wrongfully using words to make the case appear to be a criminal — not civil — case.

Both Joshua Tarter and Thomas Gregory filed replies Dec. 14 to a plaintiff’s response to their motion to dismiss the federal lawsuit against them.

Anna Lou Tarter Smith, Luann Coffey, and Douglas Tarter, the plaintiffs in the case, allege Tarter Companies co-owner Joshua Tarter, along with employee Thomas Gregory, and a Chinese national “Chen” (who is not a party in the lawsuit), set up a middleman corporation named Hong Kong QMC in Hong Kong, China, to funnel more than $70 million from Tarter Companies to QMC.

The alleged scheme lasted seven years and Tarter was still buying parts, described as substandard, from QMC as late as August 2017, the suit states.

The plaintiffs filed suit Aug. 11 in the U.S. Eastern District of Kentucky federal court.

Joshua Tarter, in a motion to dismiss filed Oct. 20, said the plaintiffs had not successfully argued futility, that they had not demonstrated actual financial injury to themselves, that the RICO law was misapplied, and they had not shown any trade secrets were stolen.

The plaintiffs then responded to that motion, saying that the defendants misapplied or misunderstood law, and that the conduct of the defendants clearly fit federal RICO Act guidelines as a criminal enterprise.

In both replies, defendants object to phrasing used to categorize the case as criminal.

“Forgetting perhaps that they are not the government, and that their lawyers are not prosecutors, they describe Josh and Gregory as having ‘committed federal criminal acts,’ seemingly for the sole purpose of denigrating them in the eyes of the Court. This Court should disregard Plaintiffs’ overblown rhetoric and see the case for what it is — a garden-variety business dispute that does not belong in federal court,” Joshua Tarter’s attorneys state in their reply.

Gregory’s attorneys also asked the court to disregard the categorization of the case as criminal.

“These sensational allegations are unfounded, unnecessary, and highly prejudicial, and appear to be an attempt to distract from the factual and legal deficiencies in Plaintiff’s civil claims,” Gregory’s reply states.

The defendants’ motion to dismiss the case was sent to Judge Danny C. Reeves on Dec. 15. He will issue a ruling at a future date.