By Walter F. Roche Jr.
The suit in behalf of Donald E. Griggs charged that if the Metro Probate
Clerk's Office had done its job of monitoring Griggs' conservatorship,
John E. Clemmons would not have been able to steal the $157,850.
Clemmons had failed to file required annual reports, but the clerk took
no action. March 2012 was the date when the first missed annual report
Clemmons, 69, entered guilty pleas to charges that he stole over $1
million from estates and conservatorships in Davidson and Rutherford
Paul Gontarek, who was appointed to replace Clemmons as Griggs
conservatorship said that the settlement was the best course based on
recent rulings in the case.
"Given the earlier court ruling, it did not make financial sense to
pursue the claim against Metro," Gontarek said when asked about the
In agreeing to the settlement, Metro attorneys wrote that "the payment
is not an expression or implied admission of responsibility on the part
of Metro government and that the Metro government specifically denies
all such claims for damages against it."
Senior Judge Ben H. Cantrell ruled that the probate clerk could be held
liable for failing to monitor Griggs case but he also concluded that
Griggs could only recover amounts stolen by Clemmons after March of
losses that occurred prior to that date cannot be attributed to the
fault of the clerk's office," Cantrell wrote.
Cantrell also ruled against another claim filed by Gontarek in behalf of
another ward on different grounds. In the case of William Link,
Cantrell concluded that a statute of limitations barred any recovery.
Clemmons admitted to stealing some $500,000 of Link's assets. Clemmons had served as both a conservator and estate
administrator for Link and his disabled daughter.
Gontarek is appealing the Link ruling.
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Metro Settles Conservatorship Claim