Thursday, February 7, 2013

Gibson Guitar and the Government

     One of the five plaintiffs in our class action lawsuit against the government is Gibson Guitar.
     On November 17, 2009 more than a dozen government agents raided Gibson's main plant in Nashville, Tennessee and forced 300 people out of the plant at gunpoint.  They confiscated $300,000 of guitars and parts, intimidated and interrogated employees (who were not given the option to have a lawyer present).  Aside from suggesting that the case had to do with wood imported from Madagascar (not an illegal import), two years later the government had not yet filed any charges against Gibson.  In 2011, the prosecutor in this case threatened a production employee with five years in the federal penitentiary.  Gibson has steadfastly maintained that it is not guilty of any wrongdoing.
     Here is a section from Gibson Guitar's blog:

The Federal Government is spending millions of tax payer dollars to persecute Gibson Guitar Corp. and indict a production employee.  This has already cost Gibson almost $1 million dollars.  Gibson’s costs must be passed on to customers.
Their campaign of legal terrorism used intimidation, and deceit.  This terrorism is aimed at ordinary citizens and a smaller entrepreneurial company with a history of doing good.  The government could have warned Gibson and other businesses that a law (which passed about a year before the raid) would require additional caution or procedures.  There was no such warning, nor is there yet a written procedure to insure you comply with that new law (which is required by the law itself).
Is the Federal Government trampling on the American values of fair play?  Is the big government agency acting of and for the people, or is it acting like a giant ogre swinging an expensive and hurtful club against ordinary citizens and small business.  They chose guns, swat teams and Ivy League lawyers over dialogue.
But there is more insanity.  The reason Gibson is being persecuted is because our production employee went on a trip to Madagascar sponsored by Green Peace to encourage certification of its forestry resources!  Several competitors which were part of the Music Wood Coalition also went on this trip.  Neither our competitors, nor the broker that we actually bought the wood from have been investigated.

     Gibson Guitar was subjected to another government raid on August 24, 2011, again by agents garbed in SWAT gear.  More wood and guitars were confiscated.

     From their website:

We must work to stop this useless harassment and abuse.  We must protect our citizens and small businesses.  Our weapons need to be focused on bad guys and not ordinary citizens trying to honor their religious traditions.  Only if we grow into a large and loud group committed to this change do we have a chance at a better future.  As individuals, the powerful interests in Washington will continue to abuse us.  Those who support these un-American terrorist tactics should be voted out of office.
Write your members of congress.  Write to the President.  Write to you friends and have them spread the word.  Let change the world and restore American values of fair play, cooperation and protect our citizens from mean and hostile abuse. 
    In August, 2012, Gibson's CEO, Henry Juszkiewicz "settled" with the U.S. Government and the Department of Justice, because the ongoing case was costing too much in legal fees and was hampering the company's production of guitars.  It was a pragmatic decision.

     Said Juszkiewicz:

“We felt compelled to settle as the costs of proving our case at trial would have cost millions of dollars and taken a very long time to resolve.  This allows us to get back to the business of making guitars.  An important part of the settlement is that we are getting back the materials seized in a second armed raid on our factories and we have formal acknowledgement that we can continue to source rosewood and ebony fingerboards from India, as we have done for many decades.”

“We feel that Gibson was inappropriately targeted....the Government used violent and hostile means with the full force of the US Government and several armed law enforcement agencies costing the tax payer millions of dollars and putting a job creating US manufacture at risk and at a competitive disadvantage.  This shows the increasing trend on the part of government to criminalize rules and regulations and treat US businesses in the same way drug dealers are treated.  This is wrong and it is unfair.  I am committed to working hard to correct the inequity that the law allows and insure there is fairness, due process, and the law is used for its intended purpose of stopping bad guys..."

     Although there are hundreds of companies who could join a class action lawsuit, only five are determined and courageous enough to band together and fight this injustice.  If we don't reclaim our rights, the government will continue to harass business owners and individuals at gunpoint for minor or fabricated chargers, ransacking their worlds and robbing them of money and goods.
     Those five companies are:
          Mountain Pure Water (Little Rock, Arkansas)
          Colasante Clinic (Gainesville, Florida)
          Gibson Guitar (Nashville, Tennessee)
          Midamor Meatpacking (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
          Duncan Outdoors (Conway, Arkansas)

     We are organizing our efforts under the guidance of two excellent lawyers, in a jurisdiction overseen by judges who respect the Constitution.  Our goals are to force a change in laws that were put in place to protect Americans during times of emergency (the War on Terrorism, the War on Drugs);  to reinstate protections granted to all of us under the Constitution and the Bill of Rights--protections that have been attenuated by statutes that give government officials power to override our rights;  to review acts like HIPAA, which give far too much latitude to the government;  and to reclaim stolen and lost assets, which were confiscated in raids that were not justified by evidence, but nevertheless caused damage to our companies and our reputations.   

1 comment:

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