Say What? Sharon Lewis’ Attorney Larry English Files $20 Million Defamation Lawsuit Against Individual Taylor Porter Attorneys Defendants and Taylor Porter ​

Larry English and Sharon Lewis
Sharon Lewis (right) and Larry English (left), Lewis lead attorney.

In a stunning legal development, well-known national attorney Larry English has filed a $20 Million defamation lawsuit against Vicki Crochet, Robert Barton, and Taylor, Porter, Brooks & Phillips, L.L.P. ​ (Taylor Porter), the law firm that represented LSU for more than 80 years until it was fired by the university in the wake of its 2021 Title IX scandal.

English’s lawsuit alleges that the Taylor Porter defendants published defamatory statements accusing English of having fabricated evidence in the Sharon Lewis lawsuit against LSU, causing significant harm to English’s personal and professional reputation. ​

English’s complaint, filed last month in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana, details a series of false allegations made by the individual Taylor Porter (TP) Defendants and Taylor Porter. ​ The defendants falsely claimed that English fabricated evidence related to Sharon Lewis’ Title IX investigation involving former LSU head football coach Les Miles. ​

According to the complaint, the individual TP Defendants and Taylor Porter knowingly falsely accused English of fabricating evidence and continued to lie despite multiple court rulings and findings that contradicted Taylor Porter’s false claims. ​ English’s filing highlights various court decisions, including the Federal District Court’s crime fraud rulings and the denial of the LSU Board of Supervisors’ writ of mandamus request to the United States 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.​

The lawsuit further alleges that TP Defendants and Taylor Porter published defamatory pleadings and made false statements in open court, causing significant harm to English’s professional reputation and emotional well-being. ​ The complaint asserts causes of action for defamation, negligent infliction of emotional harm, intentional infliction of emotional harm, and civil conspiracy. ​

English seeks compensatory damages in the amount of $20 million, a full retraction of the defamatory statements, and other relief deemed just and proper by the court. ​

“I come from a lineage of freedom fighters, who despite poverty put everything they had in me to become a Tulane-educated lawyer who honors my family’s investment by fighting for my clients with passion and integrity,” English told Tiger Rag.

“To be called a criminal for doing my job to the best of my ability has been the most traumatic time in my career, but I will not allow wealthy white lawyers that a Federal Court found broke the law to protect a sexual predator dishonor my grandparents and parents’ belief in me.  I am confident the justice system will vindicate my name and hold Robert Barton, Vicki Crochet and Taylor Porter accountable for the stain they have painted on my reputation and the legal profession,” English said.

The individual TP Defendants and Taylor Porter have yet to respond to the lawsuit. ​

Multiple independent legal experts contacted by Tiger Rag said they anticipate a contentious legal battle, given the gravity of the allegations and the potential impact on the defendants’ professional reputations.

English, a nationally known and well-respected attorney and businessman is originally from Shreveport, graduated from Tulane law school and currently lives in New York. He has garnered attention in the past for his involvement in several high-profile cases, including the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case McCoy v. Louisiana. ​ He is also known for his advocacy work and English has received accolades for his contributions to various community initiatives.

As this defamation lawsuit moves forward, it will undoubtedly shed light on the importance of maintaining professional integrity and the potential consequences of making false and damaging statements. The outcome of this case could have far-reaching implications for the legal community and the ethical standards of professional conduct.

According to the filing, the TP Defendants agreed to conceal a Directive Letter for the LSU Board of Supervisors.  Specifically, on August 29, 2013, attorneys at Taylor Porter executed a Directive Letter with Miles and former Athletic Director Joe Alleva.  The parties agreed to store the Directive Letter in Taylor Porter’s law office and to notify each other within 24 hours if any party received a public records request for the documents.  They also agreed to jointly fight the release of the documents if necessary. This agreement was made to conceal the Directive Letter from public scrutiny.

According to the lawsuit, retired state Judge Timothy E. Kelley adopted the false statement about English fabricating evidence that was made by TP Defendants and Taylor Porter in their memorandum in support of filing Article 863 sanctions against English.

Judge Kelley’s adoption of that false statement further perpetuated the defamatory claim against the plaintiff and contributed to the harm caused to his reputation and professional standing, English’s lawsuit states.

Judge Beau Higginbotham was assigned the case at the state court level when Kelley retired weeks after originally issuing sanctions against English and Sharon Lewis, his client.

On January 7, 2024, Lewis filed a request to have Judge Higginbotham remove himself from her state lawsuit against LSU because Higginbotham disregarded two federal district court rulings and 2023 federal trial testimony that, Lewis said, proved Miles sexually harassed and bribed a student for silence and that LSU then had Miles’ lawyer and Taylor Porter firm conceal the documents for eight years.

Lewis’ motion was filed after Higginbotham’s ruling of $199,000 in sanctions against Lewis and her lawyer for filing claims of RICO, the Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organizations Act.

“Ms. Lewis and I have been sanctioned almost $200k for proving Les Miles was a sexual predator who broke the law to cover up his sexual misconduct,” English said at the time. “Higginbotham should not only be recused from this case but be removed from the bench for his conduct in this case.”

Higginbotham’s latest ruling brought the total amount of sanctions against Lewis and attorney English to an unprecedented $529,000. Lewis and English were sanctioned $337,000 earlier by Kelley, whom Higginbotham replaced after Kelley retired in 2022.

Miles and his attorney, Peter Ginsberg, filed for the sanctions against Lewis and English that Higginbotham ruled on following Kelly’s retirement.

On April 23, 2023, the Federal District Court ruled that English on Lewis’ behalf had successfully made a prima facie case that the LSU Board of Supervisors likely acted in furtherance of a crime in violation of La.  R.S. 14:132(B) when they utilized TP Defendants to conceal the Directive Letter in Taylor Porter’s law office. Federal Judge Susie Morgan issued the ruling that suggests that the District Court found evidence or arguments presented by Sharon Lewis to support her claim that the LSU Board of Supervisors and Taylor Porter engaged in criminal conduct by concealing the Miles Directive Letter.

Taylor Porter appealed this ruling by Morgan to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. The 5th Circuit referred to the TP Defendants’ billing records as “fraudulent” in its ruling.  This statement suggests that the court found the billing records to be deceptive or misleading in some way.

The District Court’s characterization of Taylor Porter’s billing records as fraudulent appears to support the plaintiff’s claim that TP Defendants engaged in dishonest practices.

The lawsuit does not explicitly state the specific false allegations against Taylor Porter. However, it mentions that TP Defendants and Taylor Porter published defamatory pleadings that contained numerous false claims.  These false claims were related to the English’s alleged fabrication of evidence and were described as baseless, offensive, and fabricated.  English claimed in the filing that TP Defendants and Taylor Porter made these false allegations with full knowledge of their falsity and with reckless disregard for the truth.

The main issue in English’s filing is the defamation and harassment he has allegedly faced as a result of false and defamatory statements he claims were made by Vicki Crochet, Robert Barton, and Taylor Porter. 

These statements, published in various court filings and pleadings, accused the client of fabricating evidence and engaging in fraudulent behavior.

English claims that these false statements have caused significant harm to his reputation, emotional well-being, and professional standing.

What actions did the TP Defendants and Taylor Porter conspire to take, according to the claim?

TP Defendants and Taylor Porter conspired to take several actions, including:

1.      Publishing defamatory statements: TP Defendants and Taylor Porter published defamatory statements in court filings on multiple occasions, falsely accusing English of fabricating evidence and engaging in fraudulent behavior.

2.      Directing attorneys to make defamatory statements: They directed their attorneys, including J.E. Cullens, Darrell Papillion, Renee C. Castro, Brandon Black, Pauline F. Hardin, and John Guenard, to make defamatory statements against the client in court proceedings.

3.      Pursuing an illegal Judgment Debtor Examination: They directed Brett Furr to pursue an illegal Judgment Debtor Examination against the client, subjecting him to further harassment and defamation.

4.      Issuing an illegal subpoena: They directed Brett Furr to issue an illegal subpoena to the client, forcing him to disclose personal information in open court and subjecting him to a contempt order.

5.      Submitting a fraudulent Rule 9.5 Certificate and judgment: They submitted a fraudulent Rule 9.5 Certificate and judgment to the court, falsely claiming that the client had approved the judgment and further defaming him.

These actions were part of their conspiracy to defame, negligently inflict emotional harm, and intentionally inflict emotional harm on English, according to the lawsuit.

What harm did the alleged lies by TP Defendants and Taylor cause the plaintiff, according to the lawsuit?

The lies told by the TP Defendants and Taylor Porter caused significant harm to English.  Specifically, the false and defamatory statements made by the defendants had the following harmful effects:

1.      Reputational harm: The lies damaged the plaintiff’s reputation in his trade, occupation, and business as an attorney and businessman. The false allegations of fabricating evidence and engaging in fraudulent behavior tarnished the plaintiff’s professional standing and could have a lasting impact on his career.

2.      Emotional distress: The false and defamatory statements caused the plaintiff significant mental pain, suffering, and lasting psychological harm.  The intentional and negligent infliction of emotional harm by the defendants had a detrimental effect on the plaintiff’s well-being and mental health.

3.      Professional harm: The alleged lies told by the defendants could have a detrimental impact on the English’s professional opportunities and relationships.  The defamatory statements could lead to a loss of clients, damage to professional reputation, and hinder future career prospects.

4.      Financial harm: The harm caused by the lies resulted in significant financial consequences for the plaintiff.  The plaintiff had to spend a substantial amount of money and time defending against fraudulent sanctions and dealing with the legal repercussions of the false allegations.

A federal court jury voted unanimously on December 20, 2023 to dismiss all claims in a lawsuit filed by ex-LSU athletics administrator Lewis accusing top officials of retaliating against her for reporting sexual misconduct.

After listening to six days of testimony, a panel of five men and three women – all white – deliberated for slightly less than three hours before delivering their verdict.

Lewis later appealed the verdict, filing a motion for judgement notwithstanding and/or a new trial with the Middle District Court of Louisiana a few days seeking to overturn it.

Lewis alleged the evidence in the federal trial was so one-sided in her favor the jurors had no legal basis to dismiss her claims.

Lewis asked the Court to grant her a new trial in part based on LSU Athletic Director Scott Woodward improperly communicating with the jurors while he was on the witness stand, causing a juror to be dismissed from the trial.

Crochet evaded a subpoena to appear at Lewis’ December 2023 trial and was admonished during the trial by Judge Morgan.

Former LSU Board member Stanley Jacobs testified in the December 2023 trial that Crochet came to an LSU meeting with he, Hank Danos and Bobby Yarborough with the Miles documents.  Jacobs confirmed from the witness stand that Crochet’s Memo to File accurately stated that the TP Defendants directed the Miles Student Complaint Memo to be illegally stored in Taylor Porter’s law office.

This along with the other documents Morgan had previously ordered the LSU Board to produce are ample proof that English and Lewis did not fabricate evidence.

These documents included:

Non-privileged emails and documents referenced in Taylor Porter billing records to LSU including:

  • Unredacted billing records.
  • Unredacted Student Complaint Memo.

These documents were requested by Lewis as part of her case against the LSU Board of Supervisors and TP Defendants.

Current LSU Board of Supervisors member Mary Leach Werner testified during the Lewis federal court trial in December 2023 that fellow board members Jacobs, Danos, and Yarborough were not required to accept Taylor Porter recommendations regarding the Miles’ Directive Letter and its concealment was recommended by Taylor Porter, according to the testimony.  This testimony appeared to further implicate Taylor Porter of furthering criminal fraud.

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Todd Horne

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