Indianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiffs, LeSEA, Inc., Family Broadcasting Corporation (“FBC”), and LeSEA Global Feed the Hungry, Inc., all three Indiana non-profit corporations, filed suit in the Northern District of Indiana alleging that Defendants, LeSEA Broadcasting Corporation (“LBC”), a Colorado non-profit Corporation, Lester Sumrall of Bristol, Indiana, Dr. John W. Swails III of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Edward Wassmer, Vice President of LBC, infringed its rights in United States Registration No. 2,206,912 for “LESEA GLOBAL FEED THE HUNGRY” and United States Registration No. 2,122,820 for “LESEA GLOBAL”. Plaintiff is seeking damages, litigation expenses, reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.
LeSEA, Inc. was founded in 1957 by Dr. Lester Frank Sumrall, now deceased, and has been a Christian, non-profit operating a variety of ministries including a bookstore and a Bible college ever since. LeSEA Global oversees food and disaster relief efforts for LeSEA, Inc. and has delivered more than $200 million of food and supplies to hungry people around the world through generous donations. FBC, formerly known as LeSEA Broadcasting, operates television and radio stations along with a 24-hour prayer line, and other religious based programs.
According to the Plaintiffs, Defendant Lester Sumrall (“Lester”) has a false belief that he is the “rightful spiritual and legal heir” of LeSEA and based upon this belief, he has continually acted in an abusive, harassing manner towards LeSEA and his family members involved in the company. As such, Lester has attempted to interfere with LeSEA’s relationships with its lenders and clients, sought injunctions against it, and filed improper leans against LeSEA. Lester issued multiple press releases, utilizing the LeSEA registered marks, spreading false claims about LeSEA stating that it was under investigation by The Office of the Indiana Attorney General and that it had been mismanaged, which could endanger the organization’s tax-exempt status. Lester has also tried to interfere with the administration of multiple family members’ estates and even a family member’s divorce due to his false beliefs.
Defendants changed “Lester Sumrall International, Inc” to “LeSEA Broadcasting Corporation” on August 6, 2018. They also filed five certificates for assumed business names in the State of Indiana that all utilize the LeSEA name, in large part, around the same time of the name change. LBC changed its mailing address to a P.O. Box with one digit removed from the mailing address of LeSEA on October 1, 2018 in an effort to obtain donations and mail meant for LeSEA. Throughout these changes, LBC began wrongfully using LeSEA’s trademarks in connection with offering similar goods and services as LeSEA.
Plaintiffs are asserting claims against all Defendants for trademark infringement, false association, false designation of origin, unfair competition, deception, conversion, forgery, theft, counterfeiting, and criminal mischief for the Defendants’ unlawful acts and unauthorized use of LeSEA’s trademarks. LeSEA is further asserting a claim for tortious intentional interference with contractual and business relationships against Lester, individually, for his willful actions against it and its lenders and clients.
The case was assigned Case 3:18-cv-00914- PPS-MGG and has been assigned to Judge Philip P. Simon and Magistrate Judge Michael G. Gotsch.