Linda Dickens of Dickens Law, LLC is being sued by The Cordish Companies for extortion and defamation. Dickens says the claims against her and her firm are a scare tactic and without merit. Cordish Companies owns and operates The Kansas City Power & Light District.
Dickens earlier filed two separate suits on behalf of clients alleging a pattern of racial discrimination at the Kansas City Power & Light District. She continues to gather witnesses for one of the suits, a class action.
Linda Dickens says she was surprised the Baltimore-based developer has taken the unusual tack of suing her, her firm and one of her lawyers. She calls the suit “bogus and frivolous.”
"I think the Cordish lawsuit is a bullying tactic," Dickens says. "(It's) also potentially (meant) to send a message to witnesses out there who might be thinking of coming forward."
Cordish filed a federal racketeering and defamation suit in federal court in Kansas City,Kan. Tuesday against Dickens.
Cordish claims Dickens, her associate Austin Johnston, and their clients in the case constitute an enterprise, which justifies the racketeering status.
In addition, Cordish says Dickens knowingly and maliciously lied to the news media with the intent of damaging the company’s reputation and business.
In the earlier cases, clients of the Dickens firm claim Cordish hired someone labeled a “rabbit” to incite altercations inside Cordish clubs. The suit claims the "rabbit" was hired to deliberate eject minority patrons.
Cordish has declined to be interviewed, but in an email company spokesman Nick Benjamin referred to a statement from the company’s home office.
Cordish “received numerous threats and demands that contained false and malicious statements about us and our businesses,” the statement reads, “that focused on promises to use the press to embarrass us and damage our reputation.”
Benjamin himself goes on to say in the email that the Cordish lawsuit is a response to Dickens’ attempts to intimidate and to extort money in the form of a settlement.
This kind of legal sparring is aggressive lawyering at it’s toughest, says UMKC law professor David Achtenberg. Both sides, he says, are making very serious allegations that lawyers do not take lightly.
"This is very high stakes litigation in both directions," says Achtenberg. "I obviously have no basis for judging the merits and facts in these two lawsuits. It is unusual for a defendant to sue the lawyers and the plaintiffs who are suing them in another lawsuit."
The Cordish Company is seeking unspecified actual and punitive damages in the case against Dickens et al. Dickens is seeking a $10 million in damages on behalf of her sole client in the first lawsuit and unspecified damages in the class action suit.