The Federal Court ruled on the request made by Austin Vantrease. I will get into that ruling where Vantrease was requesting names, addresses, and amounts given by donors soon enough. Before this, I will give the background, with a few things to say of my own.
I’m actually writing this the night before this announcement is made (meaning last night, Wednesday) and will finish when it is announced. Please consider what I write as my opinion. By now, most should know I am forthright and honest with the website’s readers. People say I’m “real and raw” and I like this characterization. I tell you (almost) everything in due time; and hold the sugar-coating, please. Thank you for allowing me to be so open. More precisely, thank you for putting up with me.
To follow is my recap. Anyone who wishes can look this case up on their own. I would guess there is a fee. Here is the information, if you’re so inclined:
- Case: 1:11-cv-00149-IMK-JSK
- Document: 174
- Filed: 10/24/2012
- Initial Filing: Civil Lawsuit Complaint (2.5 pages)
The following facts are undisputed. Plaintiff Ken Diviney and others have engaged in fund raising to help pay for Ryan Diviney’s medical costs and other expenses. Such efforts include solicitation of donations through a website, “Ryan’s Rally,” and fund raising events such as road races and dinners. Plaintiffs have received charitable contributions from a wide variety of individuals and organizations to help defray Ryan Diviney’s medical costs and other expenses. 
Vantrease Motion and Contentions:
The names and addresses of all individuals, business organizations, charitable organizations, educational institutions, public or private agencies, or other persons or entities, with the exception of private health insurance companies insuring Ryan Diviney or his parents, who or which have contributed any funds and/or tangible items for the care and support of Ryan Diviney since November 7, 2009. 
Copies of any documents recording the dates and amounts of financial donations and/or tangible donations made by the persons or entities identified above. 
My Legal Objection:
Plaintiff’s objected to both the interrogatory and request for production on the ground that the information requested was irrelevant and not reasonably calculated to lead to discovery of admissible evidence. 
Plaintiffs objected to Request for Production on the basis the request was “overly broad, unduly burdensome and not reasonably calculated… 
Vantrease’s Claim for Wanting Donor Information:
Defendant Vantrease first argues the information regarding the identities of persons or corporations who or which have donated funds or items for the care and support of Ryan Diviney is relevant and discoverable because it may prove or disprove bias on the part of the witness or juror. 
Defendant further argues that an exception to the “collateral source rule” may apply… 
Allow Me to Summarize:
Okay, did you get all that? No problem if you didn’t because I’ll break it down… as I understand it.
Austin Vantrease wants everything about everybody related to donations. He claims this is necessary to: 1) ensure fair witnesses and jury selection, and 2) reduce his overall potential financial obligation (this is the “collateral source rule” mentioned earlier).
I strongly disagree. Not only that but his attorney’s argument seems incredibly weak. Almost non-existent, I would suggest.
First, witnesses are thoroughly deposed and jurors go through an extensive selection process. There are many, many opportunities for attorney’s to find (and remove) witnesses and people from the jury pool. Even still, I offered to give a donation list to the court (and not Vantrease) to cross-reference jury candidates and witnesses. Problem solved, as I see it. This way a violent felon isn’t running around a maximum-security prison with the names and addresses of good people who were only wanting to help my son.
Second, on offsetting his likely financial troubles, I am outraged; To me, Austin Vantrease has no claim to decent people’s goodwill! How dare he! Really, what kind of cad would even think of this, let alone ask? Let’s look at this in real terms. In effect, a generous person who donated, say a pillow for Ryan to rest his head on at night, would have it ripped out and “re-gifted” from Vantrease. Tell me, am I not thinking about this right?
So, tonight I wait for the court’s decision. You will know quickly after I do. This can go two ways:
- We Lose. I consider even a partial favorable/unfavorable ruling as losing. This means I go down the extensive and expensive road of appealing. It puts my plan of a class action suit and injunction in play. It means I potentially find myself in jail before too long for being in contempt of court. I promise you, I will only give your personal information to a violent felon as a last resort. I will protect those people who helped Ryan to the greatest extent possible (and this is where it would be harmful to Ryan, not me). You can bet your house on that. It’s a simple principle… you have Ryan’s back and I will, in turn, have yours. Fair enough?
- We Win. In this case, I do my best to recover from the chilling effect of people uncomfortable donating over the past few months. Hey, I don’t blame anyone one iota for being hesitant. I haven’t actually analyzed it, but it seems contributions have declined sharply. Vantrease continues to harm Ryan, even from within the walls of Huttonsville Prison.
DENIED! We won, hands-down. The court found all claims moot (i.e., presenting no real controversy). It was a huge victory for Team Diviney.
Turns out, the court didn’t even take us up on our offer to provide the donor list to it. It is just fine with traditional jury selection and witness verification. What’s more, the ruling says “There is not a shred of evidence to suggest the four (4) rationales applied in Anderson [collateral source rule] for admission are present in the instant case.” This, to me, would be a crushing defeat if I were on the other side of this lawsuit.
I see this as the United States Federal Court protecting good and caring people who voluntarily make donations from undue fear.
Okay, back to the decline in donations that this inane action has potentially caused. This ruling should not only alleviate any earlier donor fears, but give confidence that you will not be bullied by anyone going forward. Please, if you were holding off to see the outcome of this case, it’s now safe to go ahead with your donations (easily done by using the link above the Blue Moon Ad to the upper-right).
What I Anticipate Next:
I’m guessing this ruling will not sit well with Vantrease. I predict he will be asking for the Anti-Parole Petition list. Sour grapes! Not sure what it will help him to have a publicly signed document that will go to the State of West Virginia anyhow (other than to try and wear me down… which will NEVER happen). People who signed this really don’t care what he thinks. Still, I believe I might object on the same grounds as the donor list.
I’ll let you know if he does.
Disclaimer: This post is my opinion (in general) and my take on the court’s ruling (specifically). Further, It’s speculation on Vantrease’s (to include his legal counsel’s) thoughts and actions. Only he knows with 100% certainty why he does what he does. I make no claim to the accuracy of anything and invite other opinions to comment (below)! Case: 1:11-cv-00149-IMK-JSK