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Monday, April 22, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Ga. Judge Dismisses LexisNexis Class Action

ATLANTA (CN) - A federal judge dismissed a class action accusing LexisNexis Courtlink and Fulton County State and Superior Courts officials of running an illegal, mandatory electronic filing system. U.S. District Court Judge William Duffey lambasted the complaint, saying it was "rambling, unfocused, redundant, overly broad and at times completely misstat[ed] applicable law and fact."

In the lawsuit, refiled in June 2008 and amended shortly thereafter, attorney Steven J. Newton, who represented the plaintiffs, claimed 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.

The original lawsuit was filed in December 2007, but Newton withdrew the case in March. Judge Duffey dismissed the refiled federal suit.

Newton, however, said he is considering refiling his claim in state court, although he appeared somewhat hesitant about the idea.

"I do not think we will get a fair trial or appeal in state court, but we can take our chances there," he said.

Duffey spared no criticism for the defense attorneys' claims either.

"The defendants' motions to dismiss [were] also undisciplined and unclear. The defendants' 'shotgun' defense strategy [was] an undisciplined response to plaintiffs' long, ambiguous, 'shotgun' amended complaint."

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.

Other than LexisNexis, the defendants were 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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