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Questions Regarding Answers' Lawsuit Against Kure Pet Food & Independent Farmers

WHY WOULD TWO WOMEN LEAVE THEIR OWN PET FOOD COMPANY?
According to court documents, Roxanne Stone and Jacqueline Hill left Lystn and its Companies because Keith Hill was self-dealing by paying himself additional fees and profits through Lystn to his own independent consulting company; Roxanne and Jacqueline would have stayed with Lystn and Companies if Keith would have stepped-down as CEO, which they had requested because of his potential misconduct. 

Yikes. 

KEITH HILL AND DERRICK HILL REMAIN SILENCE REGARDING MONETARY MOVES
Keith Hill's lawyer currently appears to be trying to make people believe that "all the facts" were reviewed in this case. However, the misconduct allegations of Keith Hill, which appear to be the very heart of why Jacqueline and Roxanne left Answers Pet Food, have largely gone unexamined from a legal perspective. We in the public don't know specifically how much money Keith Hill may have moved from the overall company that operated Answers Pet Food, to various other companies he seems to own. Various companies are mentioned in the lawsuit, including Lystn, Food For Life Trucking And Logistics Company, Integrative Green Solutions, Incorporated, Biodynamic Farms LLC. That's quite a few companies, so the mind can only question how money could have moved between companies until more facts are presented in a court of law or until Keith Hill publicly addresses the issue. 

On October 21, 2021, I asked wrote Derrick Hill and Keith Hill the following message, asking for clarity on this issue. "When I attended the court hearing pertaining to an injunction you filed, I heard several accusations of 'unclean hands' regarding actions that seemed to be related to Lystn’ LLc., dba Answers Pet Food. Do you have any comment as per the accusation of 'unclean hands' placed on your company? I understood as the potential of Derrick or Keith moving money from Lystn’ in an unlawful way. Feel free to correct me off I’m wrong."

Neither Derrick or Keith responded to my inquiry. 

THE QUESTIONABLE COMPETENCE OF CEO KEITH HILL 
When I attended the trial and viewed some of testimony in person, I'll be honest...I was waiting on all the juicy details. A lot of stuff was odd to me. In an initial letter to retailers and distributors, Keith Hill attempted to trivialize this matter to a "personal, private matter" and I believe he even mentioned his "divorce" was a primary reason behind what was going on. In court though, it felt like Keith Hill was accusing Jacqueline and Roxanne of everything under the sun. He claimed that Jacqueline and Roxanne had "bath mouthed" him and the company so bad, that the company was failing as a result. He said that Roxanne and Jacqueline had conspired to steal employees from Answers, steal formulas, intellectual property, and the list went on and on. So, I wanted to see all the juicy evidence behind all of these claims! What did Jacqueline and Roxanne say, and to whom, and when did they say it? What formulas did they steal exactly? And why in the world would they need to steal formulas? What intellectual property, exactly? 

Answers Pet Food (Keith Hill and Derrick Hill etc. now) called an "expert witness" by the name of Angel Helm, who provided many "wow" moments for me. When Derrick Hill took the stand, my mouth dropped a few times. 

First off, Angel Helm testified that it was Roxanne Stone's brilliance as a formulator, which was the major reason why Answers Pet Food was so successful. Angel stated something to the effect of "a close second" reason why the company was so successful was due to the known relationship with the independent farmers. 

Elephant in the room: why would you expect consumers and retailers to still purchase your products when the two primary aspects behind WHY people were buying these products, are no longer there

Angel gave various props to Roxanne and Jacqueline, saying that their talent is undeniable. And again, she stated something to the effect of Roxanne having a very rare talent in the pet food industry, in her ability to formulate products. That testimony by Answers Pet Food's own expert witness seemed to discredit the claim that Roxanne had "stolen" formulas from the company. Why would someone so talented and brilliant at what she does, need to steal anything? 

Furthermore, Angel also testified that she had expressed to Keith Hill that she was concerned that Answers Pet Food only had essentially "one" source for an estimated 40% of their product line, and this source was the independent farmers. She also expressed concern that Keith had no active contracts with the farmers. 

My head went to, no contracts, only one source for so much product, no backup plan? This is your competence as a CEO? YIKES! 

According to Angel, Keith stated that the farmers would "never" leave him because they'd been too good to the farmers over the year. It's rumored that when the farmers began to think about leaving Keith as well, Keith allegedly threatened them, saying he would "sue" them if they went direct to market with milk, cheese, or other products. Whether that is true or not, we now know that Keith Hill did indeed sue the independent farmers, and is seeking a permanent injunction against the farmers, trying to keep them off the pet food market forever.

When Derrick Hill (son of Keith Hill) testified, he stated their direct to consumer business was "dead" and he seemed to be trying to place the blame on the farmers and Jacqueline and Roxanne. When he was asked additional questions about "why" the direct to consumer business was dead, he stated that one of the farmers organized the fulfillment of all the orders, and that farmer no longer wanted to work with Answers Pet Food, so they didn't have anyone to fulfill the direct to consumer orders. 

Again, my thought went to, did you not have a PLAN for if one person didn't do all the work for you, for someone else to? Could you hire someone else? Why didn't you hire anyone else? To me, this spoke even more to business incompetence. Why do you only have essentially one option, and why are you blaming so many others vs. yourself when that one option you relied on decides to no longer work with you? 

THE QUESTION OF RIDING COAT TAILS
Given the above information, which is only a slither of the details revealed in the case, it felt more like the men rode the coat tails of the women as well as the farmers. When the women were no longer there to do all of the work, the men didn't seem to have amble backup plans or where with all the effectively run the company or smoothly transition it without the two women owners. When the farmers were no longer there to do all the grunt work, the men seemed to lash out, blaming their issues on everyone else. "They stole this" or "they spoke bad about us" or "they stole employees from us!" And when the women and the independent farmers remained firm in what they believed, Keith Hill and Derrick Hill launched lawsuits against them. 

THE LLC PROVISION
Once Roxanne and Jacqueline exercised their right to leave Answers Pet Food, Keith Hill and others at the company were legally required to buy out the shares of Roxanne and Jacqueline. Court documents speak to Answers Pet Food having 30 days to abide by that LLC provision. We now know from court documents, Keith Hill and others at Answers Pet Food did not do that. This forced Jacqueline and Roxanne to ask a court to enforce the LLC provision. 

For example, I've had personal issues where FDA out right breaks the law. Specifically with FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) law, FDA simply abides by the FOIA law when it's convenient for them, and they outright break it and most often blame their refusal to follow the law on the requestor, people like me. So on several occasions, I've had to sue FDA and other federal agencies, asking a court to step in, and force the FDA to follow law. It's a sucky thing to have to do. You have to hire lawyers. So much time and money is spent. And then, the process can take years. It's brutal, and difficult. 

When Jacqueline and Roxanne asked a court to enforce the LLC provision so they could be free from Answers Pet Food, Keith filed an entirely new lawsuit against Jacqueline and Roxanne, and he also sued the independent farmers when they started their new company Kure, creating his own argument or story that Jacqueline and Roxanne had conspired, stolen recipes, so on and so forth. 

As of the date of this writing, Keith's violation of the LLC provision remains unresolved. The court in which they brought the issue to initially, combined their case with the new lawsuit Keith filed, and the judge in the case refused to enforce the LLC provisions, prompting Roxanne and Jacqueline to appeal the case. 

THE JUDGE IS TRYING TO SAY THE INDEPENDENT FARMERS CAN'T MILK THEIR OWN GOATS AND COWS, AND SELL THE PRODUCT
This is what has seemed to cause the most issues in this case with the public. The judge in the original trial was saying the independent farmers can not sell ANY RAW PRODUCT of ANY KIND. As I stated above, there are a lot of details in this case. To me, a lot of the details are twilight zone level details. For example, Keith Hill is trying to say Answers Pet Food owns the ability to ferment raw goats milk or cow milk kiefer. Basic critical thinking on this may reveal we have so many beers on the market, wine, sausages, kombuchas, and other fermented products. No one "owns" fermentation. Yet, that's what Keith Hill seems to be trying to claim. 

Let's just play devil's advocate for a second. Let's say that the judge agreed, "yes, you guys can't produce a new product called Kure with this formula, or that formula." The judge didn't do that. The judge is saying the independent farmers can't produce ANY type of raw product, and sell in on the pet food market. 

And that has created the WHAT?! question amongst retailers, distributors, and consumers, and it has awakened an #istandwithkure movement with consumers, against Keith Hill. How can a farmer not own his own farm, own his own animals, and produce his own products? How can a farmer not milk his own goat, and sell the raw material at all? It's a very bizarre stretch, and it doesn't make any sense logically or legally. 

LETTERS BY KEITH HILL CONTAIN INCONSISTENCIES

I see various inconsistencies in the stories presented in at least three letters sent to retailers and disturbers, by Keith Hill and others at the company. I've mentioned briefly above in the initial letter, Keith Hill appears to attempt to trivialize the issue, and state its all just a “personal private matter.” He even admits that by Jacqueline and Roxanne leaving the company it triggered contractual, legal obligations. Aka, Answers Pet Food had to buy out the shares of Roxanne and Jacqueline.

We now know that didn’t happen.

In the latest letter though, Keith Hill doesn't address those contractual, legal obligations that are still unresolved. He seems to have changed the story, now trying to claim the farmers, as well as Jacqueline and Roxanne, are thieves. That's not going over well with a lot of people in the public.

Keith has also stated in past letters that Roxanne and Jacqueline are “consultants for Kure,” and then with his attorney writing, has put out the story that Roxanne and Jacqueline incorporated a company called Kure. Well, which is it? Are they consultants? Are they owners of Kure Pet Food? Keith and his attorney Allan are all over the place here. Why is the story changing? 

Why are Keith and Allan not stating that Jacqueline and Roxanne started their own consulting company, Trinity Clean Foods? Why isn't Keith and his lawyer addressing the original issue here, which is his own questionable financial moves that Roxanne and Jacqueline took such an issue with, they left the company? Why isn't Keith publicly addressing why he refuses to abide by his own company's LLC provisions? 

IS ANSWERS' LAWYER PURPOSELY LYING TO RETAILERS AND CONSUMERS?
In correspondence in November 2021, the attorney for Answers Pet Food stated that Answers “sued those two (2) owners and their new pet food startup which they incorporated as Initial, LLC d/b/a Kure.”

Roxanne Stone, and Jacqueline Hill, the two owners being referenced here, did not incorporate a “new pet food startup” Kure Pet Food. That is a lie. So, why is the attorney publishing this information and sending it to retailers and distributors?

I find that lie especially fascinating, given that in the same letter this attorney tries to blame “social media” for spreading lies, then continues to outright lie himself.

Kure is solely owned and operated by a group of 5 independent farmers.

#istandwithkure MOVEMENT HAS STARTED DUE TO KEITH HILL'S OBSESSIVENESS TO PUT INDEPENDENT FARMERS OUT OF BUSINESS
While Keith Hill has publicly alluded to being "proud" of the initial judge's decision to place an injunction against the independent farmers, banning their ability to produce any raw product for pets, his boasting doesn't seem to be sitting well with a lot of people. Too many people have been personally helped by the farmers, as well as by Jacqueline and Roxanne. Keith's attempts to keep them all off the pet food market is appearing confusing, vindictive, and highly unnecessary. 

Retailers and consumers are joining a new movement on social media, in defense of the farmers who have the right to sell their farm products in the pet food industry. The hashtag being used is #istandwithkure. 

One women owned store, Green Line Pet Supply, seems to have summed up this ongoing issue that seems to speak to values, as well as quality and transparency. "I have been an Answers customer for years and believe there is room for both but after reading the court docs, I'm boycotting Answers. I support Kure and have already switched to the broth, milk, and kefir. @answerspetfood, you did this to yourself. I support companies with the same values, and you're not one of them."

The ethics of CEOs, companies, and farmers is a topic that has longly been overlooked in the pet food industry. Who are you getting your food from? What are the ethics of all involved? The underlying theme of this ongoing case seems to be about ethics, and how business decisions, potential ego, potential illegality, all play into that. While Keith Hill and his attorney have attempted to convey that the court has spoken and "agreed" with them, this case is far from over. 



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