'Tiger King' star Carole Baskin sued for defamation by missing husband's family, assistant

'I do not joke about the loss of my late husband Don Lewis,' Baskin refutes

Carole Baskin is being sued for defamation by relatives and a colleague of her missing husband Don Lewis, who disappeared mysteriously more than 20 years ago and has since been declared dead.

As part of the lawsuit, the daughters of Lewis are seeking more information about what happened to their father.

Baskin rose to immense popularity earlier this year when she was featured as a subject in the Netflix docuseries “Tiger King” and was accused by series star Joseph Maldonado-Passage -- also known as Joe Exotic -- of having a hand in Lewis' disappearance and death. Maldonado-Passage is currently in prison for conspiring to kill Baskin.

The amended complaint to an earlier lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Tampa, Fla., by Lewis' three daughters, Donna Pettis, Lynda Sanchez, and Gale Rathbone, as well as his former assistant, Anne McQueen. It also names Baskin's current husband and her tiger rescue sanctuary as defendants.

The lawsuit claims that Baskin defamed McQueen when she shared a video to her YouTube channel earlier this month, suggesting McQueen played a role in Lewis’ disappearance.

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Baskin rose to immense popularity earlier this year when she was featured as a subject in the Netflix docuseries 'Tiger King.'

Baskin rose to immense popularity earlier this year when she was featured as a subject in the Netflix docuseries 'Tiger King.' (Netflix)

The lawsuit also is seeking what is known as a “pure bill of discovery," which allows information in a case to be gathered before a civil complaint is filed.

The pure bill of discovery “will be useful to identify potential defendants and theories of liability and to obtain information necessary for meeting a condition precedent to filing suit," the lawsuit said.

“Despite contentions to the contrary, the truth has never been explored in any court and there is a good faith basis to believe the truth will open up many viable remedies," the lawsuit said.

Big Cat Rescue founder Carole Baskin appears in a scene from 'Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.'

Big Cat Rescue founder Carole Baskin appears in a scene from 'Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.' (Netflix)

In a statement to Fox News on Wednesday, Baskin took umbrage with the defamation lawsuit and called any notion that she had a hand in Lewis’ death “a stretch.”

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“I do not joke about the loss of my late husband Don Lewis,” said the “Dancing With the Stars” competitor.

“It's a stretch for anyone to say that because I use the common phrase of ‘killing it’ that it refers to Don since I believe he crashed an experimental plane over the gulf due to his own failing mental capacity," she alleged. "I didn't kill him or have him killed, so there's no way I'd associate losing him with that word or concept.”

In her statement, Baskin further alleged: "I was the only person in his life trying to get him to a medical specialist after he'd been diagnosed as Bi-polar with Altered Mental States just 2 months before he went missing.

"According to Don, Anne McQueen and Wendell Williams were telling him that I was trying to have him committed and I believe it was because they were profiting off his diminished capacity that made it impossible for me to get him the help he needed in time," Baskin alleged in her statement.

Baskin also claimed that "any 'Tiger King' reference to killing or murder is strictly based on the fact that so many animal abusers have tried unsuccessfully to kill me either by rallying their minions or hiring hit men.”

Additionally, she pressed that she has “turned down scores of Cameo requests from people who wanted me to say something unkind about Don," explaining she always sends the same response to requesters that “the tragic loss of my husband is not something I joke about.”

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Baskin is being sued for defamation over a video diary entry on YouTube earlier this month in which she says Don Lewis'  former assistant Anne McQueen played a role in Lewis' disappearance. 

Baskin is being sued for defamation over a video diary entry on YouTube earlier this month in which she says Don Lewis'  former assistant Anne McQueen played a role in Lewis' disappearance.  (Netflix)

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In March, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister announced that his office was seeking new leads following the popularity of Netflix’s “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.” Lewis’ disappearance remains an open case.

In retaliation, Maldonado-Passage raised questions about Lewis’ disappearance. The documentary extensively covered Maldonado-Passage’s repeated accusations that Baskin killed her husband and possibly fed him to her tigers. Baskin, who founded Big Cat Rescue, has never been charged with any crime and released a statement refuting the accusations made in the series.

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Baskin, now a contestant on “Dancing With The Stars," said nothing when judges of the TV dance competition made references in jest to the belief that Lewis was killed and fed to the tigers at her sanctuary, the lawsuit said.

Williams could not be reached for comment and a lawyer for McQueen did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.