Madam Ellen Corkrum, the ousted Managing Director of the Airport Authority who along with others was recently indicted by the Government of Liberia for corrupt practices has turned the hands of the clock anti-clockwise by filing an Action for Damages suit of US$ 25 million against the management of the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA) and its Board. Sometime ago, the Ministry of Justice indicted Madam Corkrum and several others for allegedly stealing and or misappropriating nearly US$1 million thereby defrauding the Government of Liberia but by then, Madam Corkrum had already fled the country and did not face prosecution instead she sneaked several documents through the media whose publication led to severe injury on the characters and integrity of other prominent Liberians.
But, in her complaints under the caption, ‘Action of Damages for Defamation of Character’, she prayed the court to entertain and sustain the Action filed in which she said the amount represents general and special damages for “Defamation of character against the LAA Director, Musa Bility and every member of the LAA Board in their individual names and corporate capacities and the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority as well as all Liberian websites and newspapers who ‘falsely wrote, pleaded, published, privately took, stole or maliciously informed the Liberian people and the world that the plaintiff privately took, stole and appropriated nearly US$ 1 million thereby defrauding the government of Liberia.”
Madam Corkrum’s 13-page complaint began with an insight on how her character has been set by her accomplished professional life, skilled family lineage and up to the 2012 when she took employment with the government of Liberia.
Admitting how she is a natural born Liberian and a permanent and highly placed citizen of the United States of America, Madam Corkrum informed the court that it is only her name, character and integrity on which she is to be evaluated, measured and objectively judged; “the very name, character and integrity which the defendants have recklessly, willfully and irresponsibly defamed and destroyed by publishing in every recognized Liberian and many international newspapers; absent of proof.”
She complained to the Sixth Judicial Circuit Civil Law Court in Monrovia, Liberia that with a specific choice of focusing her graduate studies to West Africa, her employment in Liberia was discussed with her military chain of command in the US Armed Forces Reserved Component of which she serves as a Major before, during and after her employment in Liberia about the types of duties to be performed in Liberia, her hometown.
She explained among other things how transactions were carried out at the LAA between her and the Board of Directors including other members of the government.
She claimed that the Frontpage Africa Newspaper was used to lead the media campaign along with Allafrica.com to besmear her hard earned character, thus giving notice to the court to produce tape recordings and copies of the Frontpage Africa to prove LAA ‘malicious’ designs and defamation of her character.
The plaintiff prayed the court to further order all the websites and newspapers to publish for six months letters of apology and reaction to her and grant her relief deemed necessary by the court sufficient to restore her to normal human life, reputation, integrity and good name.
In their response, the defendants delved on the improper filing of the plaintiff’s action for Damages of Character which indicates, ‘what is not done properly is not done at all.’ The legal team’s foremost argument for the trashing of the plaintiff’s action is that the Power of Attorney pleaded was done in a foreign jurisdiction and not domesticated.
They contended that it should have been notarized subsequently in Liberia and duly probated and registered in keeping with the law therefore noted that the said Power of Attorney is not valid under the Liberian law.
More so, the defense counsel contends that the plaintiff is a United States citizen and the Liberian law provides that a Power of Attorney given a non-Liberian should be probated and duly registered.
In its 10-page-38-count answer, the defense lawyers said the law states that one must be under the court’s jurisdiction to sign or file a suit and that all pleadings must be filed by a resident lawyer so as to allow the opponent serve responsive pleadings on the opposing counsel but highlighted that the recourse to the plaintiff’s pleading shows on both written direction and the complaint that the plaintiff’s lawyer is a resident in Aurora, Colorado.
The defendants’ lawyers argued that the plaintiff failed to categorically quote the defamatory language or attach an exhibit showing such for which the action should lie, terming it as a “vague and unspecific” complaint because it is inconsistent with the practice in the Liberian jurisdiction.
Defense lawyers prayed the court to dismiss the complaint in its entirety for legal merit, award nothing to the plaintiff on her claims, find her liable to the defendants on defendants’ counterclaims of embezzlement, breach of fiduciary duty and civil conspiracy, award damages to defendants on account of plaintiff’s embezzlement, breach of fiduciary, duty and civil conspiracy; tax the cost of the action against plaintiff and grant relief to the defendants as it may deem just and proper.