He soon ran into other problems. Rainbow was parking cars all over the street. In the late 1990s, Dona Loshonkohl Hufford of the San Diego Police Department began ticketing those cars. Kinder filed numerous complaints against her. She countersued and was awarded $350,000 and got a restraining order against him. Early last year, she won another $900,000 from him. Her boyfriend was dying as a result of a bad auto accident. At the accident scene, as she held him in her arms, Kinder stared her down. The court sided with her.
From Rainbow’s humble headquarters, Kinder began the lawsuits in 1999, suing in propria persona, or on his own behalf, but in 2003 he was declared a vexatious litigant, or one who repeatedly files groundless suits. Then he hired two young lawyers. The Kinder team still operates from the India Street office, monitoring calls and suing the so-called offenders.
In a typical letter, one of his lawyers, Chad Austin, wrote Equidata of Newport News, Virginia, in February of last year, claiming that it had made 64 autodialer calls to Kinder’s so-called pager and owed $64,000. His letter to Kenneth Copeland Ministries of Newark, Texas, also in February, demanded $10,000. Both have been named in the suits that the defense seeks to consolidate February 1. Austin refused comment.
Defendants in those suits charge that the paging function has been disconnected and replaced by a sophisticated computer system with multiple tape recorders and date/time stamps.
Los Angeles lawyer Andrew Struve is defending U.S. HealthWorks in the ongoing case. It is charged with making 223 calls. The telephone protection law “was a well-intentioned law designed to prevent people from receiving unsolicited calls from telemarketers where the receiver gets charged,” says Struve. Kinder claims his device is a pager, and he has to pay for incoming calls, “but it is not a pager.” Struve’s client consists of doctors trying to contact patients.
Ronald Stargis, a Sacramento lawyer, won against Kinder in small-claims court. Stargis was able to show that a dialing machine used by a collection agency was “not statutorily defined as an automated dialing device,” he said.
As the current case proceeds, such arguments will ring out in superior court. Call it Kindergarten.