EXCERPTS FROM CIVIL COMPLAINT FILED BY ANGELA FORD AGAINST ATTORNEY SETH J. JOHNSON IN FAYETTE CIRCUIT COURT –Trial judge ordered defendants answer in civil case to be sealed…everyone is asking “how this could be done?”
COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY
22nd JUDICIAL DISTRICT
ANGELA FORD PLAINTIFF
JOHNSTON LEGAL PSC and SETH. JOHNSTON DEFENDANTS
Angela has fought the U.S. Attorney’s office for two years in an effort to avoid having to provide and accounting to the Government regarding her handling of Fen Phen money. It is reported to LawReader that Seth Johnson was hired to help collect some $42 million in Fen Phen money for Ford. In this civil suit she alleges he mishandled “her money” and we conclude this refers to the Fen Phen money she claimed.
Nevertheless Ms. Ford now asks the Fayette Circuit Court to order “an accounting of funds” from Seth Johnson. In her civil complaint she does not mention “Fen Phen” .
The Ford vs. Johnston civil law suit was filed on August 16, 2012. Johnston was indicted by the Federal Government on Feb. 7, 2013.
The talk on the street speculates that a byproduct of the indictment is that the U.S. Attorney who indicted Johnston may be to encourage Johnston to disclose information about Ford that they have been seeking for years.
That might include the question: “Who did Ford share her Fen Phen legal fees with? Who did she pay and how much did she pay them? “ This case and other related cases, and even the Fen Phen criminal case will be under a cloud of accusations and doubt until it is disclosed how the $42 million dollars in Fen Phen funds seized by Ford was distributed.
The pending appeal before the Ky. Supreme Court which is reviewing the ruling of the Ky. Ct. of Appeals could have overwhelming consequences. If they overrule the Ct. of Appeals the argument is that they improperly considered new facts…..and if they uphold the Ct. of Appeals then how will they ever put the genie back in the bottle and recover the $42 million Ford has admitted she has seized and distributed.
A reliable source says that the Fayette Circuit Judge assigned to the case, Hon. Tom Clark, has ordered that the ANSWER filed by Johnston against Ford be sealed. Previously reports about a counterclaim being sealed was incorrect. A better source absolutely confirmed that it was Johnstons ANSWER to Ford’s complaint which was ordered to be sealed.
This order was issued at the request of Angela Ford. Mention was made of a surety bond to be posted by Ford for her requested temporary restraining order which limited Johnston’s handling of certain bank accounts. The bond was said to have been set at $800,000, then was reduced by the court to “$100,000.” The TRO pleading viewed by LawReader says $500,000 surety only was required.
One Lexington Attorney expressed dismay at the court ordering an answer in a civil case to be sealed and hidden from the public. The comment was made, that “Ford has been allowed to get away with legal murder.”
Reports on the street suggest that the answer against Ford is highly critical of her and one source referred to it as “nasty”. We understood this to imply that it was a very accusatory and unfriendly pleading particularly coming from Ford’s former co-counsel in the Boone County Fen Phen civil case.
LawReader recognizes the Supreme Court has adopted a so-called “squeal rule” requiring all attorneys to report any ethics violations to the Bar Counsel’s office. If the civil answer is as bad as claimed in making accusations, then perhaps the Squeal Rule requires anyone in possession of the Answer to file a copy with the KBA and the Bar Counsel’s Office.
LawReader confirmed with one source that the Answer filed by Johnston was actually sealed by order of the trial judge. The attorney refused to discuss the accusations contained in the Answer out of concern that he might be in violation of Judge Clark’s order sealing the answer.
LawReader has not seen the formal answer but would be glad to publish it if anyone having a copy will send it to us. (Fax: 502-732-4631)
We do not allege any improper or unethical action by the Trial Judge, but we do raise the question that after discussing this legal issue with many lawyers and former judges, none have come up with authority for an answer in a civil case of this type to be officially sealed and hidden from the public.
Many members of the bar would appreciate some guidance from Judge Clark as to the justification for the sealing of an Answer. We have no doubt that many hundreds of plaintiff’s lawyers would love to exercise such a legal theory to silence the defendants in civil suits. LawReader will reserve 100 pages for Judge Clark to publish his reasons for sealing the Answer of Seth Johnston. We will not edit his comments.
We make the same offer to Angela Ford and to Seth Johnston and their attorneys.
Relevant paragraphs of the Ford civil lawsuit against Johnston state:
“On or about November 2010 Defendant Johnston left Miller Wells and opened his own law office Johnston Legal PSC Since that time Defendants have improperly deposited or transferred funds belonging to Plaintiff into accounts at banks and escrow companies under his own name or the name of entities and individuals unknown to Plaintiff .”
“9. Plaintiff is entitled to Declaratory Judgment that she is the sole owner of the funds in question and the owner of any property purchased with the funds or any investment made with the funds and requests speedy hearing pursuant to the Kentucky rule of CIVIL Procedure Rule 57. (emphasis added by LawReader)
(LawReader comment: A federal indictment of Johnston (Feb. 4, 2013) alleged that the items he purchased included $100,000 of “synthetic marihuana”….Is Ford claiming possession of the drugs if it is proven that Johnson did indeed purchase drugs…or is this an indication that when she filed the civil suit she didn’t know how Johnston was spending his money?)
“To this date neither Defendant Johnston nor his attorney has responded to requests to provide Plaintiff with an accounting of funds.”
“11. Plaintiff is entitled to full and complete accounting of all funds and is entitled to know the current location of all such funds.”
“b. Enter an Order requiring Defendants to provide full and complete accounting of all funds including all bank statements investment documents and property purchases and the location of all such funds.”
The Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) from the Court stated:
“IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Defendants and his agents are hereby prevented restrained and enjoined from withdrawing transferring or otherwise dissipating any funds presently on deposit at the following banks including but not limited to accounts with funds traceable to checks from Plaintiff or an entity owned by Plaintiff
American Founders Bank Inc
Central Bank Trust Co
Fifth Third Bank Inc.
First Security Bank Trust of Owensboro
JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A
U.S Bank NA
Entered and effective this the 17th. Day of August 2012
(Surety bond $500,000). (This TRO bond was reported to have been reduced to $100,000 without surety.)
Angela Ford Esq
Chevy Chase Plaza
836 Euclid Avenue Ste 311
Lexington KY 40502
Seth Johnston Registered Agent
Johnston Legal PSC
250 West Main Street Suite 3010
Lexington KY 40507
250 West Main Street Suite 3010
Lexington KY 40507
233 St Margaret Drive
Lexington KY 40402