Carole Baskin wants the lawsuit about her dead husband over
The hunt for Don Lewis isn’t over. Lewis’ daughters filed a motion for discovery last month in a Hillsborough County Court which on September 3, Carole Baskin moved to dismiss.
Carole Baskin, the owner of the tiger sanctuary Big Cat Rescue, was married to Don Lewis until his mysterious disappearance in 1997. Foul play wasn’t officially suspected until the sleeper hit Tiger King aired on Netflix in April.
Since the world was stuck inside, everyone watched the docuseries antihero Joe Exotic rehash rumors that Baskin killed Lewis & fed him to tigers. After the docuseries aired, Hillsborough County Sheriffs reopened the case. A billboard was put up offering $100,000 for info on Lewis’ whereabouts.
Don Lewis’ daughters filed suit
It’s not a secret to anyone who watched Tiger King that Don Lewis’ descendants don’t like Carole Baskin. They explained on the docuseries that they felt cheated out of their portion of the inheritance. They also felt like Baskin wasn’t being forthright about everything about Don Lewis’ disappearance.
Thus, the siblings filed a motion of pure discovery against Carole Baskin. Meaning, Don Lewis’ daughters Donna L. Pettis, Lynda L. Sanchez, and Gale L. Rathbone are compelling Carole Baskin to produce any & all evidence she has about Don Lewis’ disappearance in any future lawsuits they file.
The siblings’ lawyer, John M. Phillips, called the suit “a lawsuit for equity,” clarifying it wasn’t for damages. A Pure Bill of Discovery, the type of suit filed, is purely about seeking information, but the evidence gathered may lead to monetary damages in future suits.
Phillips specializes in wrongful death cases. They’re also joined by Don Lewis’ former assistant Anne McQueen in the suit.
The Press conference
Don Lewis’ daughters held a press conference on August 10 where they outlined their mission to get to the bottom of their fathers’ disappearance. Amazingly, our little family tragedy has become your tragedy,” Gale L. Rathbone told the crowd. “Our search for closure and truth has become your mission also.”
When Carole Baskin heard about the press conference, she dismissed it as a publicity stunt. She was unaware Lewis’ surviving children were filing a lawsuit against her at the time.
When asked by The Associated Press what her thoughts were, Carole Baskin offered no comment. “It’s been my policy not to discuss pending litigation until it’s been resolved,” she said.
“Just a fishing expedition”
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Carole Baskin asked the court to dismiss her husband’s disappearance as a fishing expedition!
Not that kind of fishing expedition. Rather, Carole Baskin called the suit a baseless “fishing expedition” that was deployed to “harass, annoy, and oppress her.” She cites both the statute of limitations for discovery and that Don Lewis’ daughter never outlined a motive in the case.
Carole Baskin filed the motion to dismiss the day before ABC announced she would appear on Dancing With The Stars. Baskin hopes the show will help her refocus her public image on the big cats she’s dedicated to rescuing, as well as the Big Cat Safety Act she lobbied for, banning the private ownership of tigers in the U.S.
Don Lewis’ daughters want records
The Guardian reports that Don Lewis’ three surviving daughters specifically want electronic device data, diaries, and other investigative material turned over to use in future lawsuits. They also named defendants besides Carole Baskin, including Kenny Farr who appeared on Tiger King and an unnamed witness for Lewis’ will.
Don Lewis’ will became the subject of controversy on Tiger King, when the docuseries revealed that Lewis included his disappearance as grounds for triggering the will.
In a lengthy blog post defending herself from allegations, Carole Baskin explained that the disappearance clause was added because of Lewis’ extensive travel to Columbia. When Lewis first disappeared, it was speculated that he was killed by drug lords during a business trip there.