Hawaii churches ask court to dismiss atheists’ baseless lawsuit
Alliance Defending Freedom represents two congregations sued for paying agreed-upon rent for use of school buildings
News Release from ADF October 10, 2013
HONOLULU — Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys and allied attorneys Wednesday filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit against two Oahu churches that are among five which two atheists have falsely accused of defrauding the government.
The lawsuit claims the churches committed fraud by paying substandard rent to the public schools in which they meet even though the school districts themselves agree that the churches have consistently paid all agreed-upon rents.
“Churches who serve the neediest in their communities should be welcomed, not driven out by false accusations,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley. “The claims in the lawsuit are false and are driven by an atheistic agenda that is hostile to churches. The undeniable fact is that these churches were at all times truthful, and they have paid all required rent to the schools.”
“These churches have not only faithfully paid all of their rent, they’ve sacrificially given much more in service and funding to the schools and communities they love,” added co-counsel James Hochberg of Honolulu, one of nearly 2,300 allied attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom. “This lawsuit’s accusations are not only false; they are downright shameful.”
The atheists, Mitchell Kahle and Holly Huber, filed their suit, Kahle v. New Hope International Ministries, with Hawaii’s Circuit Court of the First Circuit under the state’s False Claims Act. The law allows “whistleblowers” with inside information to expose fraudulent billing by government contractors; however, the lawsuit fails to cite a single instance in which the churches submitted a false statement to defraud the government.
The motion to dismiss, filed on behalf of One Love Ministries and Calvary Chapel Central Oahu, explains that Kahle and Huber “have failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted because they have not alleged and cannot allege that there were any false claims by One Love or Calvary Chapel. Because the existence of a false claim is a necessary element of a False Claims Act complaint, and because [Kahle’s and Huber’s] allegations, even if taken as true, demonstrate that no false claim exists (or can exist), their Complaint must be dismissed.”
The motion also explains that Hawaii’s False Claims Act requires that those bringing suit under the act be the original source of the information upon which they are filing suit and that the allegations be highly particular. The motion points out that Kahle and Huber do not meet either of these requirements.
# # #
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
AP: Hawaii churches target suit on school rental fees
WND: Hawaii atheists' claim under state whistleblower act challenged
Attorney audio: Erik Stanley | James Hochberg