TUPELO – Lee County Schools Superintendent Mike Scott filed a lawsuit Friday against Jamie Franks and Eric Hampton.
The suit, filed in Circuit Court, names Franks and Hampton both individually and in their official capacity. Franks is the chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party and Hampton is the chairman of the Lee County Democratic Executive Committee.
The lawsuit claims extortion, malicious interference with employment, defamation and negligence.
Hampton had sent a letter from the committee demanding that Scott, who was elected in 2007 as a Democrat, resign by Friday because of conduct unbecoming a school official.
The demands resulted from an extramarital affair between Scott and Franks’ now ex-wife, who works for the school district.
Scott did not resign, and Hampton said he had no comment about what the committee will do next.
“We did what we did on behalf of the teachers,” Hampton said Friday. “For any further action taken on behalf of the committee, I have no comment.”
The lawsuit was filed by Tupelo attorney Jim Waide, who will represent Scott.
Scott had previously been served legal notice that he and the district would be sued by Franks because of the affair between Scott and Lisa Franks, the district’s elementary curriculum coordinator.
Jamie Franks is seeking $500,000 in that notice, filed on July 1.
Waide said Scott chose not to wait for that suit to be filed, an action that could occur any time within the next year.
“Mike wants it resolved as quickly as possible,” Waide said. “We believe it is likely that this is probably not authorized by the Democratic Party.
“We don’t want to wait a year while they decide on a suit against him.”
Scott declined comment beyond what his lawyer said.
The lawsuit claims that Franks used his position with the state Democratic party to get revenge and used his influenced over Hampton to maliciously interfere with Scott’s employment.
It claims that Hampton called a meeting of the Lee County Democratic Executive Committee at Franks’ request to extort Scott to resign from office.
The suit also alleges that a quorum was not present at the meeting in which committee members allegedly voted to demand Scott’s resignation.
The suit further claims that Hampton demanded Scott to resign on penalty of revealing further detail of the affair.
The suit admits the affair but says that it did not “alienate the affections” between Jamie and Lisa Franks, claiming that Lisa Franks was previously “determined to leave the marriage.”
The couple’s divorce became final last month.
In a press release, Franks’ attorney, Jason Herring, called Scott’s suit “retaliatory.”
“In the retaliatory lawsuit filed by Mr. Scott against Mr. Franks and others, he admits his ongoing sexual relationship with Mr. Franks’ then spouse,” the press release said. “As such, this matter simply boils down to Mr. Scott having an affair with Mr. Franks’ wife at the expense of Lee County taxpayers and then suing him when Mr. Scott’s wrongful conduct was disclosed.”
In Franks’ legal notice, he claims that tax dollars were spent in the affair between Scott and Lisa Franks, including cell phones, transportation costs, lodging and gifts.
Scott denied Thursday that any taxpayer money was misused.
Franks declined comment beyond Herring’s statement. Hampton also referred to the statement but added, “I’m going to let God handle it, along with counsel.”
Scott’s lawsuit requests a ruling that says Scott is not liable to Franks for alienation of affection and that the actions taken by Franks and Hampton were not lawfully authorized by the Lee County Democratic Executive Committee or by the state Democratic Party.
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or email@example.com.
Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal