Attorney and fired Southern University Law Center Professor Dorothy Jackson filed a defamation lawsuit Monday against a family and an attorney who accused her of using her position for wrongdoing, and her attorney warned that anyone who has recently questioned Jackson’s behavior should “buckle up and get ready” to be served with a lawsuit of their own.
Jackson filed the lawsuit as a counterclaim to a lawsuit that Jacquelyn Antoine, daughter of Helen Plummer, filed against Jackson earlier this year. Antoine and her attorney said that Jackson along with the East Baton Rouge Council on Aging and other agencies conspired to coerce the elderly Plummer into leaving money in her will for the Council on Aging’s executive director, Tasha Clark-Amar.
Jackson drafted Plummer’s will in 2016 at Southern’s Elder Law Clinic, and the will left more than $100,000 over 20 years for Clark-Amar to be the executor and trustee of Plummer’s estate. Jackson is also a Council on Aging board member.
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Both Clark-Amar and Jackson stepped off the will after Plummer’s family questioned it. Plummer's family members said they had never heard of Clark-Amar until after Plummer died and Clark-Amar called to tell the family that she would be overseeing the estate. After Southern convened a faculty panel to investigate the incident, Southern’s President Ray Belton fired Jackson in February and the board of supervisors did not accept her appeal.
Jackson’s lawsuit names Antoine, and Antoine’s attorney, Robert Garrity. The suit, filed Monday in the 19th Judicial District Court, says Garrity knowingly included false statements in the lawsuit he filed earlier this year against Jackson and the Council on Aging.
The lawsuit from Garrity and Antoine referred to Jackson as a “co-conspirator” with Clark-Amar. In her counterclaim filed Monday, Jackson asserts that the designation is “false, malicious, scandalous, defamatory” and that Garrity should have known it would ruin Jackson’s personal and professional reputation.
Jackson’s counterclaim also takes issue with another paragraph from Garrity and Antoine’s lawsuit, which says she “used her position as a member of the Board of the East Baton Rouge Parish Council on Aging and her position as a supervising attorney for the Elder Law Clinic at Southern University to personally enrich herself by naming herself as the attorney for the estate, by filing the estate and billing the succession for services that she has rendered privately.”
Jackson described the paragraph as defamatory.
Southern University fired former professor and Elder Law Clinic Director Dorothy Jackson on Friday following multiple investigations and heari…
Additionally, Jackson’s defamation filing said that no court has ever ruled the will that she wrote for Plummer was invalid. Plummer’s will was recently settled among family members, and its outcome for what Antoine and others received in money differed from the original version that Jackson wrote.
“My client’s name was ruined because she tried to fulfill Ms. Plummer’s desires,” attorney Joel Porter said. “The Plummer family, nor Robert Garrity, has ever produced one piece of evidence to suggest that she was coerced or that the will was fraudulent.”
Porter, a Baton Rouge attorney, is representing Jackson in this lawsuit. Though Jackson has also fought her termination from Southern, she has used a different attorney for those claims. New Orleans-based Bill Aaron has been representing Jackson in her dealings with Southern. Aaron said Monday that he had not heard about Jackson filing a defamation lawsuit, but said he also plans to file suit against Southern for the process that governed Jackson’s firing.
Clark-Amar filed a separate defamation lawsuit last year against Plummer’s family.
Garrity said Monday that he and Antoine are not to blame for Jackson losing her job.
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“She must have done something terribly wrong to be fired as a tenured professor,” Garrity said. “Obviously it was true, otherwise, she wouldn’t have been terminated … what she was accused of doing, she did. She got caught.”
Porter attended Jackson’s unsuccessful appeal in April at the Southern Board of Supervisors meeting and stood alongside Aaron as Aaron discussed the outcome.
Jackson’s counterclaim says she has suffered damage to her name, ruin to her reputation, loss of income, emotional pain and suffering and more because of defamatory statements from Garrity and Antoine. She is requesting that Garrity, his insurer and Antoine pay compensatory and special damages “in an amount that will fully and adequately satisfy the demands of justice and equity,” as well as legal costs.
Porter warned that this is not the last of defamation lawsuits to come from Jackson.
“Everybody who made a public, defamatory and false statement needs to buckle up and get ready,” Porter said.