Madison - St. Clair Record

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Effingham lawyer granted summary judgment after lawsuit over family business

By Charmaine Little | May 11, 2018


BENTON — The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois on May 2 granted summary judgment to an attorney representing the daughters of an Illinois man who sought to regain control of a company.

In 2015, Scott Jenkins had filed a lawsuit in Missouri federal court against his daughters to be in control of a family business in Nevada, according to information in the ruling. Jenkins’ daughters hired attorneys Joice Bass and Jennifer Hostetler in Nevada as well as Bruce Burkey of Effingham to represent them in the lawsuit.

Scott Jenkins then took legal action against the attorneys and their law firms with claims including intentional and negligent infliction of emotional stress, breach of contract, fraud, theft, blackmail, coercion and extortion. 

The court had already granted a portion and denied a portion of a motion to dismiss filed by Burkey.

The remaining claims accuse Burkey of defamation and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage and accuse Taylor Law Offices (TLO) of vicarious liability for Burkey’s alleged actions in the previous two claims. Burkey and TLO sought summary judgment.

Scott Jenkins had accused Burkey of defaming his character in verbal and written statements. 

Burkey argued that the defamation claims were not within the statute of limitations as the alleged activity occurred more than a year before Jenkins’ lawsuit. 

The court sided with Burkey and granted a summary judgment on the defamation claim.

Scott Jenkins also claimed Burkey blocked him from executing his responsibilities as manager of the family business. He added that Burkey prevented him from getting paid when he attempted to eliminate him as manager. 

In response, Burkey claimed that Jenkins was never “removed” as manager, so the interference with prospective economic advantage argument should not apply. He added that the intentional interference count included in the claims had already been released in a settlement amendment.

While Jenkins argued that claims against Burkey weren’t included in the settlement amendment, the court disagreed and granted the summary judgment. The court also granted summary judgment to TLO.

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U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois