The court fight between Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber and his former executive assistant took another turn last week. U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan, III threw out Mayor Yarber's lawsuit against Kimberly Bracey. Mrs. Bracey sued the Mayor and city of Jackson in August and made several salacious allegations.
The complaint mentioned strippers, fundraisers, and even body-paint. She stated that she had an affair with the Mayor after he performed the wedding ceremony with her and her husband. However, she claimed that she feared retaliation when she tried to end the affair.
Mayor Yarber sued her in return for defamation as he claimed that the allegations in her complaint were defamatory and had no basis in fact. He also claimed that Mrs. Bracey "falsely" alleged in her complaint that she had a sexual relationship with the Mayor and that the Mayor had "numerous sexual relationships with other women" during his tenure as Mayor. Attorney Judy Barnett represents the Mayor. He also alleged that Ms. Bracey abused the service of process:
13. That the filing of the Complaint and the filing and service of the Amended Complaint containing false allegations against the Counter-Plaintiff by the Counter-Defendant is a malicious perversion of a regularly issued civil process, for a purpose and to obtain a result not lawfully warranted or properly attainable thereby.However, Judge Jordan made short work of this claim:
14. That the actions of the Counter-Defendant were done with the intent to abuse the privileges of the legal system.
In this case, as in the cases cited above, Yarber’s counterclaim is “not based on any perversion of any process[;] rather, it [is] based simply on the filing of the suit.” Moon, 690 So. 2d at 1197 (citing Edwards, 93 So. 2d at 174); see also id. (“[T]he only process involved in this case was the summons. There were no arrests made, and there was no seizure of property. Thus, there was no improper use of process after it had been issued.”). Because Yarber’s abuse-of- process claim is based solely on Bracey’s filing of this lawsuit, the claim fails as a matter of law. The motion to dismiss is granted as to the abuse-of-process claim, which is dismissed with prejudice.
The learned jurist then delved into the defamation claim:
In his defamation count, Yarber claims that Bracey “made numerous false and defamatory statements concerning” him. Countercl.  at 10. All of the false statements attributed to Bracey in the facts section of the Counterclaim are described as contained within either the Complaint or the Amended Complaint in this matter....
Judge Jordan then stated the definition of defamation and said that statements, even if defamatory and untrue, were still protected if they were associated with a lawsuit. However, Judge Jordan points out that the alleged defamatory statements took place in an interview between Ms. Bracey and the Clarion-Ledger's Anna Wolfe and were not included in the actual defamation lawsuit:
For his part, Yarber does not seem to dispute the absolute privilege afforded to statements made in judicial proceedings, instead characterizing the Counterclaim as including “defamatory statements [Bracey made] about [Yarber] to Anna Wolfe of the Clarion Ledger Newspaper that were printed in an article,” as well as statements made in a radio interview. Counter-Pl.’s Resp.  at 3. But the Counterclaim does not reference these alleged statements, so as of now, they are not part of Yarber’s defamation claim. As pleaded, the defamation claim fails to allege the unprivileged publication of any false statement. The motion to dismiss is also granted as to the defamation claim, which is dismissed without prejudice.The case currently moves along in the discovery phase.