Today, the Mississippi Center for Justice filed a lawsuit on behalf of University of Mississippi professor James M. Thomas against Mississippi State Auditor Shad White. The complaint raises a claim of defamation relating to White’s repeated contention that Dr. Thomas violated Mississippi’s no-strike law. It also seeks a declaratory judgment from the Court that Dr. Thomas did not violate that law. The suit was filed in Hinds County Circuit Court by attorneys Rob McDuff and Paloma Wu of MCJ.
The full complaint is located here.
The complaint begins:
In an attack on James M. Thomas, a faculty member and teacher at the University of Mississippi, Mississippi State Auditor Shad White falsely accused Dr. Thomas of violating Mississippi’s law prohibiting certain public employee strikes and called on the University to terminate his employment as a result. The false statement was made by Mr. White in a letter to the Chancellor of the University, in a subsequent letter to Dr. Thomas himself, in at least one press release, and in a number of interviews and other public statements.
This lawsuit is brought on behalf of Dr. Thomas. It seeks to hold Mr. White accountable under the law of defamation for this false statement. However, Dr. Thomas does not seek the payment of any taxpayer money. This defamation suit is brought against Mr. White in his individual capacity. If Mr. White is found to be liable for this false statement, the jury can decide whether he personally should pay any money. If the jury says he should pay one dollar, that is fine. If the jury orders payment of more money, that is fine too. But no taxpayer money will be paid to Dr. Thomas as a result of this lawsuit.
White, in a statement, said on Wednesday: “The lawsuit is not worth the paper it’s written on.”