INSURANCE OFFICE OF AMERICA, JOHN RITENOUR, HEATH RITENOUR FILE MOTION TO REMOVE PRESS RELEASE, DEFENDANT FILES OPPOSITION CITING LITIGATION PRIVILEGE AND ULTERIOR MOTIVES – WITNESSES SOUGHT AS TO ALLEGATIONS

Jan 14, 2021 7:41 PM ET

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JANUARY 12, 2021, LONGWOOD FLORIDA.   Insurance Office of America, John Ritenour and Heath Ritenour filed a defamation lawsuit against four alleged victims (and their lawyers) of alleged business fraud and alleged manipulation of IOA’s private stock.    In the lawsuit, IOA and the Ritenours claim, in part, that they have been damaged by the posting of press releases aimed at seeking witnesses for information relative to the allegations in the lawsuits and their reputations.  In the beginning of September, IOA claims to have settled with one of the lawyer defendants and have now requested the Court to enter an Order directing the press release “authored” by the lawyer to be taken offline.

In response, one of the Defendants has filed a legal memorandum in opposition which states in part: “On March 24, 2020, this case was filed by Plaintiffs under the guise of claims for defamation, tortious interference and abuse of process. Since this case was filed, Plaintiffs haven’t lifted a finger to prosecute any of their collective or individual claims. In fact, the only thing Plaintiffs have done is object to all discovery, attempt to delay all discovery and object to a joint motion to dismiss this action.  This action has forced the victims of John Ritenour and Heath Ritenour’s (“Heath”) civil racketeering and other civil harms to defend themselves for their alleged posting of press releases which were intended to seek witnesses relative to the very serious allegations against Insurance Office of America, Inc. (“IOA”).”

The Response goes on to argue:  “This case was never about defamation, this case was about intimidation, fear and seeking to drive a stake through the heart of attorney-client relationships.  With respect to the latter, Plaintiffs seemingly hit a bullseye when Defendants Joshua Clark and Joshua Clark, P.A. withdrew from counsel for Naughton and settled with Plaintiffs at an undisclosed mediation conducted in the beginning of September 2020… Astonishingly, Plaintiff Heath Ritenour seemingly violated the subject confidentiality of the Clark/IOA Settlement Agreement before the ink was dry. Tellingly, Heath’s gloating establishes the real motives behind this frivolous lawsuit: (1) to prove an avenue for damage control; (2) interfering with attorney-client relationships; (3) having lawyers withdraw from representation; (4) announcing a “settlement payment” to IOA from the Clark Defendants to IOA’s shareholders and employees; and, most importantly; (5) allowing them to continue their schemes which include the manipulation of the private stock for personal profit among other schemes.”

The Memorandum Response continues by contending:  “Considering the record in this case, or in any other case around the country wherein IOA is being accused of fraud, it is mind-bending that Plaintiff Heath would state: “As you all know, I can’t wait to get these cases to court and put this behind us.” This statement to IOA’s unsuspecting shareholders, employees and independent insurance sales agents is a bold-faced self-serving lie intended to manipulate the IOA workforce. In fact, Plaintiffs haven’t lifted a finger to prosecute their claims in this lawsuit. Indeed, if Plaintiff Heath Ritenour truly can’t wait to get these cases to trial, then answering discovery instead of objecting to everything would tend to get the cases to trial – but that’s not in the IOA playbook. No, Plaintiffs would prefer to try their case in the court of public opinion of their shareholders, associates, employees, shareholders and independent agents while objecting (in one way or another) to nearly every discovery request made in these proceedings.   Why?  Because they know the law does not support this collateral lawsuit filed against victims of fraud and deceit.”

The Response went on to state, "While Defendant Naughton continues to deny any allegations in the Complaint as it relates to him, he contends that, now more than ever, in light of this case filed against him where Defendants Heath and John claim to have “impeccable” reputations, the Clark Press Release remains an important litigation tool for gathering information relative to his defense. Thus, the press release should remain posted unless Plaintiffs wish to dismiss Defendant Naughton from this action."

This is a Notice to Witnesses we are seeking information as to the allegations regarding Heath Ritenour’s alleged “impeccable” reputation, or as to the reputations of IOA or John Ritenour.   As of the date of this press release, none of the allegations against IOA, John Ritenour or Heath Ritenour have been decided by a judge or jury.   If you have any information, please contact us at [email protected].   All communications will remain confidential.

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