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Friday, July 12, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Fight Against E-Filing Continues in Atlanta

ATLANTA (CN) - Attorney Steven J. Newton may be getting traction in his nearly two-year quest to show that Lexis-Nexis Courtlink and Fulton County are running an illegal, mandatory e-filing system in Fulton courts. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter ordered that no Fulton County Superior or state court judges hear Newton's motion for disqualification and recusal of all of the county judges. The motion will be referred to a judge in a different district to determine if Fulton County judges can hear the suit.

This is Newton's third attempt to assert this claims. Which judge will rule on his latest claim has not yet been determined.

"This class action arises from an illegal scheme perpetuated by defendant Reed Elsevier Inc. dba Lexis-Nexis Courtlink Inc. to impose an unlawful, mandatory e-filing system upon litigants in Fulton County State and Superior Courts and to charge excessive and unauthorized fees in connection therewith," the complaint states. "Defendant Fulton County has participated in Lexis' illegal scheme by promulgating a 'pilot program' authorizing Lexis' unlawful mandatory e-filing scheme and excessive fees without the statutory authority to do so."

Documents in Fulton County State and Superior Courts, filed through the LexisNexis File & Serve system, can cost from $7 to $11 per filing in cases where electronic filing is mandated by orders from Fulton County State and Superior Courts and authorized by Fulton County.

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 and silicosis damage claims.

Newton filed a similar lawsuit against Lexis-Nexis Courtlink and Fulton County in Federal Court in December 2007. He withdrew it in March 2008 and refilled in June 2008.

The case was dismissed in March this year. U.S. District Court Judge William Duffey, in an opinion and order, lambasted Newton, calling his complaint "rambling, unfocused, redundant, overly broad and at times [it] completely misstates applicable law and fact."

Judge Duffey also unloaded on the defense attorneys.

"The defendants' motions to dismiss are also undisciplined and unclear. The defendants' 'shotgun' defense strategy is an undisciplined response to plaintiffs' long, ambiguous, 'shotgun' amended complaint."

In the new case, Newton represents W. Phillip McCurdy III, Michael Cawthon, Nelson Picklesimer, Kenneth Clowdus as administrator for the estate of Kenneth Larry Clowdus, and The Best Jewelry Manufacturing Company.

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