ATLANTA (CN) – Lawyers in a federal class action suit against publishing giant LexisNexis and Fulton County are filing the final round of documents on a motion dismiss, with a spirited counter from the plaintiff lawyer who has submitted an affidavit from a legal assistant who was rejected in her attempt to file court papers without first paying the private publisher.
In the lawsuit filed in June, LexisNexis Courtlink Inc., a division of Reed Elsevier; Fulton County State and Superior Court officials and Fulton County are accused of running an illegal, mandatory, electronic filing system.
In its argument for dismissal of the action, the county is saying that lawyers need only use public access terminals at the courthouse to avoid paying a Lexis Nexis $11 transmission fee a factual contention that plaintiff lawyer Steven Newton vigorously contests.
Newton has filed an affidavit from a legal assistant for one of the attorneys he represents in the case, saying she drove from Macon, Georgia to Atlanta to paper file a motion. According her affidavit, “The clerk refused to accept my paper motion, no signage of any type was visible regarding the public access terminal, the clerk did not advise that I had an option to use the PAT and without any other options, I left the courthouse/clerk’s office without being able to file the motion.”
The legal assistant also said that since the attorney’s LexisNexis’s account was allegedly delinquent, she decided to make the trip to the courthouse, but even after the account was made current, the attorney and the legal assistant were “denied access to the court, to include using the PAT for several days.”
In support of their motion to dismiss, attorneys for Fulton County argue that state law allows the mandatory efiling deal where the court requires use of Lexis Nexis to file documents and requires payment of an $11 to the privately publisher fee for the transmission of those documents.
“Their [the attorneys] understanding of the English language is extremely different than mine,” Newton said. “Court clerks cannot refuse to accept paper filings, and no money can come out of the public’s wallet without the express authority of the General Assembly.”
Fulton County’s lawyers also said in their reply brief that Fulton County is not the appropriate defendant, and they point to the Fulton County Board of Commissioners as the government body that actually implemented the e-filing system.
Newton said the defendants are trying to have it both ways, noting that in an earlier round of litigation on the same mandatory efiling system, attorneys for the county argued that the Fulton County Board of Commissioners should not be a party in the lawsuit.
The matter is pending before U.S. District Court Judge William Duffey.