|John E. Clemmons|
“The Probate Court clerk’s office failed to ensure proper accountings were filed as required,” Gontarek said in one of the complaints.
In one case in which he served as an administrator, Clemmons filed just one annual report in a decade, according to the suit.
“Each failure to require an annual accounting is a separate negligent act or omission.”
Clemmons, 66, was jailed after entering guilty pleas to charges that he stole over $1 million from four clients. He is serving a sentence of up to 18 years.
Initially, Gontarek also filed suits against Bradshaw as an individual but records show he subsequently dropped those cases and consolidated all of the claims against Metro government, which employs the probate master.
Bradshaw declined to comment on the litigation. Lawyers for Metro have asked that the suits be dismissed, contending that the government is immune from such claims.
“The complaints contain no allegations of intent, malice or reckless misconduct,” Metro lawyers wrote in asking for the cases to be dismissed. “Because the duty owed is a public duty, the Metropolitan Government is immune.”
Clemmons was first appointed as the conservator for William Link and as the administrator of his estate after Link died in 2003. He also served as a conservator for Donald Griggs, 68, of Nashville. In Link’s case the missing money was supposed to go to his disabled daughter, who also is in a conservatorship.
The complaints charge that Clemmons stole $771,009 from the Link estate and $172,506 from Griggs. Clemmons was removed from both in April of last year after disciplinary proceedings were initiated against him.
Due to legal limitations the suits seek only $672,957 — $515,907 for Link’s estate and $157,050 for Griggs.
Gontarek’s complaint also charges that Bradshaw should have initiated contempt charges against Clemmons due to the failure to file the required reports.
“A reasonable person in the Probate Clerk’s position would have discovered Mr. Clemmons’ improper distributions,” the suit states. “The negligent acts and omission by the employees within the Probate Clerk’s office resulted in financial losses to the estate of William Link of at least $771,009.”
Gontarek did not respond to a request for comment.
Members of the Link family, meanwhile, have filed a motion charging that Gontarek’s complaint does not go far enough and that additional criminal charges should be brought in the case.
“Both my family and I feel the actions of the circuit court clerk and probate master go beyond just negligent acts but are criminal in nature and for personal gain,” the motion by Elaine Dismang states.
Metro Sued in Probate Court Scandal