Parents of Kendrick Johnson ordered to reimburse attorney fees

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By: WCTV Eyewitness News
August 9, 2017

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- The parents of Kendrick Johnson have been ordered by a judge to pay approximately $300,000 in attorney fees to the parties they sued in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson claimed that the death of their 17-year-old son Kendrick at Lowndes High School in 2013, was not accidental, as it was ruled by the medical examiner's office.

After the lawsuit was voluntarily withdrawn by the Johnsons, a motion was filed requesting that they be ordered to reimburse the legal fees of the numerous individuals, including state and local officials, they named in the suit.

The original amount being sought for the fees was approximately $850,000. This week, Lowndes County Superior Court Senior Judge Richard Porter ordered the Johnsons to pay a portion of the original amount.

Lowndes County Sheriff's Office Attorney Jim Elliott say in a statement:

"For over four and one-half years, the Johnsons and their lawyer have been falsely accusing the Bell family of having been involved in the tragic, accidental death of Kendrick Johnson. And they have been falsely accusing educators, law enforcement officers and others of engaging in a non-existent cover up. Judge Porter has now put those false accusations to rest and determined that the Johnsons’ and their lawyer’s accusations were substantially frivolous, groundless and vexatious. And for their misconduct, the Court has ordered the Johnsons and their lawyer to pay the attorneys’ fees and expenses of those whom they have falsely accused. All of those who have been falsely accused have been vindicated. Truth prevails. Justice has been done."

The Sheriff's Office will get the most money back, around $73,000.

Others awarded include the Bell family, the Lowndes County School Board, Steve Owens Transportation, and the City of Valdosta.

In July, the Johnson family filed a new lawsuit alleging a massive conspiracy to conceal the true cause of their son’s death. However, attorneys say it can't move forward until the family pays the large sum ordered by the judge.

We've reached out to the Johnson family and are waiting for a response.