Meredith financial planner sues unhappy client for defamationBy BEA LEWIS
Union Leader Correspondent
November 07. 2017 4:00PM
LACONIA — A Meredith businessman whose livelihood is dependent on his sterling reputation has filed a lawsuit claiming a customer has unjustly defamed him.
David A. Kutcher, who founded DAK Financial Group LLC in 1992, is asking a judge to order Timothy D. Sullivan IV, of Gilford, to stop making defamatory statements about him, his wife and his financial services company.
The suit filed in Belknap County Superior Court by Attorney Robert McDaniel of Meredith asserts that Sullivan bought a $25,000 contract for an annuity from DAK and had never voiced any dissatisfaction with the product or its performance until he showed up outside a Center Harbor restaurant where Kutcher was courting potential clients; Sullivan was parading a sign reading "I got wacked by DAK," according to the suit.
Kutcher, who says he launched his company after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, is a state-licensed insurance broker and holds a CLTC (Certification for Long-Term Care) designation.
As part of its marketing efforts, DAK hosts a series of "dinner events" held at well-known area restaurants. Attendees are treated to a free dinner, followed by a brief financial planning presentation.
Sullivan, a member of the Gilford Budget Committee, attended one of the DAK seminars in the early 2000s and eventually purchased an annuity contract from a person then working for DAK.
"The contract performed as advertised, was subject to full disclosure and understanding to and by Sullivan, and remains performing to this date," the suit says.
This June, DAK hosted a dinner event at the Canoe restaurant in Center Harbor. The suit claims that Sullivan appeared in a public area outside the eatery on busy Route 25 carrying the large, handmade "I got wacked by DAK" sign.
Sullivan displayed the sign to those entering and leaving the restaurant, some of whom were there to attend the DAK event. Among those who saw the sign, the suit alleges, were executives of a regional banking institution with whom DAK has an ongoing business relationship.
Several weeks later, Sullivan displayed the same sign outside the Faro restaurant in Weirs Beach while Kutcher was hosting another dinner event. In the wake of the incidents, the suit says, DAK and its staff have been questioned by clients, business colleagues and others who have witnessed or who have heard of Sullivan's conduct and who have sought information about "what happened" and why.
Sullivan's actions "imply misconduct on the part of the plaintiffs," and "suggest that DAK or its staff was guilty of some crime, some malpractice or other abuse of client trust," and, as a result, the suit claims are libelous.
In charging that Sullivan's "conduct is wanton, malicious or oppressive and (is) born of an evil motive," the plaintiffs could be eligible for an enhanced monetary award should they prove their case in court.
The suit also makes claims of intentional interference with commercial advantage, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. It further seeks recovery of attorney's fees and costs.