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Court dismisses Kendrick Johnson suit alleging conspiracy

New evidence presented in Kendrick Johnson case
Posted at 8:50 PM, Jul 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-01 20:50:58-04

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) — The United States Court for the Middle District of Georgia’s Valdosta Division dismissed the case against all defendants in the Kendrick Johnson case on Wednesday, according to court documents.

The documents state the plaintiffs, Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson, Kendrick’s parents, allege the defendants conspired to "cover up the circumstances surrounding Johnson's death" and interfering with the Johnson family's attempts to "access both state and federal courts."

The plaintiffs are listed as:

  • Brian, Brandon, and Richard “Rick” Bell,
  • The Lowndes County School District,
  • Chris Prine,
  • Wesley “Wes” Taylor,
  • Stryde Jones,
  • Stephen Wesley Owens,
  • Lowndes County,
  • Dr. Maryanne Gaffney-Kraft, and
  • Rodney Bryan.

On Wednesday, the court stated Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson, along with their attorney, failed to serve the defendants with a summons and complaint within 90 days after the complaint was filed.

The action was requested on Jan. 9, but the court states that the plaintiffs waited 54 days to request that summons issue for Brian, Richard and Brandon Bell.

The court says the plaintiffs also waited 81 days to request that summons issue for the remaining defendants.

By law, the court must extend the time for service if the plaintiff shows good cause exists for not serving papers within the time frame, according to the documents.

The counsel for the plaintiffs explained to the court why the documents were not served within the specified time; however, the court determined the plaintiffs had not “demonstrated good cause for the failure to perfect service of process and that no other circumstances warrant the extension of time for service.”

The court then dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint without prejudice and denied as moot, the defendant's motion to dismiss, stating the plaintiffs will not recover anything from the defendants in this case.

Investigators say the 17-year-old was found upside down in a rolled-up gym mat on January 10, 2013.

An initial autopsy found that his death was accidental and that he suffocated to death.

Multiple and dueling lawsuits and charges of a cover-up ensued, in a case that has the public divided, to this day.

In 2018, Kendrick Johnson's body was exhumed for a second time at the request of his parents. An independent pathologist hired by the family concluded that the teen died from "unexplained, apparent non-accidental blunt force trauma."

The call for a new investigation into Kendrick Johnson's death garnered attention in early June when Kim Kardashian began tweeting about it.

Jacquelyn Johnson maintains her son's death was not accidental.