VALDOSTA – The $100 million wrongful death suit filed by the parents of Kendrick Johnson was dropped earlier this month, and now defendants named in the suit are seeking to recover nearly $900,000 in attorney’s fees.
Kendrick Johnson’s body was found upside down in a vertically-stored gym mat at Lowndes High School in January 2013. A state autopsy ruled the 17-year-old’s death accidental. The Johnson family insists their son died of foul play. A federal review of the case is in its third year.
Johnson’ parents filed a civil suit in January 2015 which accused 38 individuals of either causing their son’s death or conspiring to cover it up.
The suit’s defendants filed for summary judgement in February, citing a lack of evidence.
The Johnson’s dropped the suit March 1. Chevene King, the family’s lawyer, has said he plans to refile.
In the meantime, the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office and the Bell family are seeking to recoup attorney’s fees from the Johnsons and King.
Sheriff Chris Prine and several LCSO employees were named as defendants in the suit. Last week, Jim Elliott, LCSO legal counsel, filed documents seeking $152,741.83 in attorney’s fees that were used to defend his clients from accusations he described as “substantially frivolous.”
“There existed such a complete absence of any justiciable issue of law or fact with respect to (the Johnson’s) claims against Prine and the LCSO Defendants that (the Johnsons) and their attorney could not have reasonably believed that a court would accept the same,” the filing stated.
FBI Agent Rick Bell and his two sons have also filed to recoup attorney’s fees. Bell was accused of directing his sons to murder Johnson. Documents filed Thursday ask for $241,358.50 from the Johnsons and King, citing the Johnsons’ admission in sworn testimony that “they had no evidence to support their claims against the Bells.”
(UPDATE) The Johnsons’ suit also accused Owens Transport of mishandling Kendrick Johnson’s remains. On Thursday afternoon, Owens filed to recoup $47,274 in attorney’s fees.
(UPDATE) Lawyers representing former defendants from the Lowndes County School Board have filed court documebts Friday seeking to recoup $432,609.65 in attorney’s fees.