Class Action Refiled In Atlanta|Against LexisNexis & State Courts

ATLANTA (CN) – A federal class-action that claims LexisNexis Courtlink and Fulton County State and Superior Courts officials are running an illegal, mandatory, electronic filing system has been refiled. The original lawsuit was filed in December 2007. Attorney Steven J. Newton, who filed for a voluntary dismissal without prejudice in March, said now he has more evidence.

     In an interview, Newton said that publicity surrounding the case has caused his telephone to “blow up.”
      “I have also received numerous e-mails and letters from lawyers across the country,” he said.
     From this onslaught of support, Newton said, he was able to find three additional plaintiffs, including Jeffrey Banks, a metro Atlanta attorney, who said LexisNexis Courtlink prevented him from using the public access terminal in Fulton County State Court to file paperwork because the company contended that his account was delinquent.
     Banks spoke with LexisNexis officials three times about being barred from the public access terminal, and taped one of their conversations, Newton said.
     When the original lawsuit was filed, attorneys representing the defendants contended their clients had not violated the Constitution, as Newton asserted.
     “Payment of the filing fees cannot run afoul of the Constitution because they are purely voluntary as the State Court has a public access terminal whereby a party may file a document for free,” the defendants said.
     Kenneth Clowdus, of Alabama, also has been added to the list of plaintiffs. According to the complaint, Clowdus, who is the administrator for the estate of his late father, believes his father was charged excessive fees while prosecuting an asbestos claim in Fulton County Superior Court.
     According to the complaint, “by virtue of being from another state, the e-file system violates Kenneth Clowdus’ rights under the Privilege and Immunities Clause.”
     Newton contends that filings in Fulton County State and Superior Courts, filed through the LexisNexis File & Serve system, can cost up to $11 per filing in cases where electronic filing is mandated by orders from Fulton County State and Superior Courts and authorized by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners.
     LexisNexis File & Serve is used in many court systems throughout the country. The system is used statewide in Colorado district and county courts, excluding Denver County Courts, according to the LexisNexis Web site.
     In Fulton County State Court, cases with damage claims of more than $50,000 and cases in which a dollar amount has been not been specified must be electronically filed. Also subject to mandatory e-filing are cases involving asbestos, fen-phen, mercury and lead, silicosis, welding rod, medical malpractice, legal malpractice, tort, personal injury cases and civil cases with four or more parties.
     The scope of cases that must be electronically filed in Fulton County Superior is less broad, covering only asbestos, fen-phen, silicosis and filings related to the case of Brian Nichols, who is accused of a shooting rampage at the courthouse.
     In addition to LexisNexis Courtlink, the defendants are Mark Harper, chief clerk of the Fulton County State Court; A.L. Thompson, Fulton County State Court chief judge; Doris L. Downs, Fulton County Superior Court chief judge; Cathlene “Tina” Robinson, clerk of the Fulton County Superior Court, and Fulton County, Ga.

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