National veterans’ charity sues local Indiana veterans’ charity

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

INDIANAPOLIS – A national nonprofit group that pulls in more than $150 million annually for veterans has sued local group Help Indiana Vets.

The lawsuit stems from a post on the Help Indiana Vets website, alleging national program Wounded Warrior Project is “a fraud.”

Dean Graham, who founded Help Indiana Vets and posted the article, said he was shocked to hear he’s being sued.

“I think they’re trying to shut me up,” Graham said.

Graham’s allegations are that Wounded Warrior Project does not donate a majority of its profits directly to veterans in need. His article has been re-posted on Facebook and led to emails sent by former donors to the national group.

In the lawsuit, attorneys for the Wounded Warrior Project argue that Graham’s post violates its trademark infringement and has cost it more than $75,000.

“(Graham’s) false and misleading statements alleged herein have deceived many WWP supporters and have caused a number of WWP supporters to cancel their ongoing donations to WWP,” the lawsuit said.

Local attorney Paul Overhauser, who specializes in trademark and copyright law, looked at the lawsuit. Overhauser told Fox 59 he found it highly unusual.

“Usually unfair competition claims are brought against businesses, because it’s only businesses that compete with each other, so this claim is unusual in my experience,” Overhauser said.

The lawsuit could also include your social media posts. Exhibits attached to the claim include Facebook posts and emails taken directly from the internet.

“You’re seeing that more and more these days, as social media is becoming more and more popular,” Overhauser said.

Graham said he’s in the process of getting an attorney to help fight the lawsuit. Still, he vowed not to back down and said the lawsuit only serves to back up his allegations that the group uses its funds for more than just veterans.

“I have veterans that call every week, matter of fact there’s been two just in the last day that have called that need just food on the table for Thanksgiving,” Graham said.

Lawsuit documents: