United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Beaufort Division
JAMES W. MCGLOTHLIN, Plaintiff,
KEVIN N. HENNELLY, Defendant.
C. NORTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the court on Kevin Hennelly's
(“Hennelly”) motion to dismiss for failure to
state a claim, ECF No. 29. The court grants in part and
denies in part the motion to dismiss.
matter arises from an action of alleged defamation and libel
brought by James McGlothlin (“McGlothlin”)
against Hennelly. McGlothlin is a founding member of The
United Company, which is the parent company of Scratch Golf,
LLC, a South Carolina corporation. Hennelly lives in Beaufort
County, South Carolina. Scratch Golf owns Hilton Head
National Golf Course (the “Property”) in Beaufort
County, South Carolina. In July 2016, Scratch Golf submitted
an application to Beaufort County to amend the rezoning of
the Property (“Rezoning Application”). On May 22,
2017, the Beaufort County Council denied the Rezoning
alleges that Hennelly made three separate posts on Facebook
and on the website of the Island Packet, a local newspaper,
that contained various defamatory statements about him, in an
effort to imply that McGlothlin is corrupt or may have
committed crimes. McGlothlin attached images of those
statements to his complaint. For the most part, these
statements relate to the Rezoning Application. Those posts
and their statements are below.
1 May 12, 2017 post by Hennelly on his own Facebook
Page, ECF No. 1-1 (“May 12 Facebook Post”)
Statement: “A little something the Island Packet
The May 12 Facebook Post included a link to this Washington
Post article (“Washington Post Article”):
Virginia governor's wife was paid $36, 000 as
consultant to coal: How Robert McDonnell reported role
affected what he had to disclose on annual financial
Internet Comment 2
May 14, 2017 comment on the online version of a May 12
article from The Island Packet newspaper (“Island
Packet Article”), ECF No. 1-2, Hilton Head National
developers: Why golf lost its swing there and what the future
holds (“Island Packet Comment”)
Statement: It looks like they left out a few pertinent facts.
The most glaring is the corrupt people involved. This guy
Kent was Chief of Staff to the corrupt Governor of Virginia.
He has never built a swing set never mind a 300m dollar City!
James Woodrow McGlothlin gave the corrupt Governor McDonald
of Virginia wife a “no show” job. The McDonalds
never reported income, $36, 000. These guys are crony
capitalists and will break every rule in the book to get a
government favor or handout. Let's vote NO to zoning
change and send these carpetbaggers packing. Let's tell
them loud and clear our elected officials are not for sale
and are above reproach.
Internet Comment 3
May 23, 2017 post by Hennelly on his own Facebook page, ECF
No. 1-3 (“May 23 Facebook Post”)
Statement: A few final observations. This was never about a
project; there is no project. This is about a request for
zoning change for the sole purpose to quadruple the value of
the land. The crooked owners wanted a government handout and
not give anything in return. This is Crony Capitalism. I hope
it is clear to these crooks from Virginia this will not fly
in Beaufort County. It is sad that Brian Flewelling believes
public input is external drama and distracts from the
process. Brian you are wrong.
Chairman Paul Summerville did an excellent job from the
beginning providing a fully transparent process and bent over
backwards to hear all public comment, thanks Paul. We saw how
the board should function and should demand the same from
Beaufort County school Board. Tabor Vaux did an excellent job
and proved himself a leader in our community. He tried to get
a development agreement but wisely. The Island Packet gets an
“incomplete” grade on their coverage of the
issue. For some reason the refused to print the documented
corruption of the owners of the United Company. Martin Kent
and James McGlothlin were up to their eyeballs in the recent
scandals in Virginia with the Governor and his wife.
McGlothlin gave the Governors wife a no show job at the heart
of the ethical and criminal activity Beaufort County and
Bluffton residents; you rock. What an outpouring of
opposition. Over 3700 people signed the petition. Proud to
live in the community with informed involved residents. Last,
hats off to Collins Doughtie, you gave so much to our
first sued Hennelly in the Middle District of Florida (the
“Florida Suit”). Hennelly responded by filing a
motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(2) and (3), based on lack of personal jurisdiction and
improper venue. McGlothlin opposed this motion, and the court
found that the Florida Long Arm Statute did not confer
jurisdiction over non-resident Hennelly. The court granted
the motion to dismiss but gave McGlothlin two weeks to amend
his complaint. McGlothlin chose to voluntarily dismiss the
Florida Suit two weeks later.
filed suit in this district on January 30, 2018, based the
same facts. The complaint brings causes of action for
defamation and negligence/ gross negligence/ recklessness,
and requests injunctive relief. McGlothlin asks for actual
and punitive damages of an amount in excess of $75, 000.
McGlothlin also asks the court to enjoin Hennelly from making
or publishing any other false, defamatory, and/or libelous
statements as to McGlothlin, and to order him to remove all
information and statements he has already disseminated.
Hennelly filed a motion to stay action and award fees under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(d) on February 15, 2018,
ECF No. 6, which the court denied.
November 16, 2018, Hennelly filed a motion to dismiss for
failure to state a claim. ECF No. 29. On December 10, 2018,
McGlothlin filed his response in opposition, ECF No. 32, and
on January 8, 2019, Hennelly filed his response, ECF No. 35.
The court held a hearing on the motion to dismiss on January
31, 2019. The motion to dismiss has been fully
briefed and is ripe for the court's review.