A day after the Civil Law Court at the Temple of Justice authorized the arrest of several employees of the FrontPage Africa newspaper, Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay has communicated with Chief Justice Francis Korkpor wherein he provided conflicting accounts of the event.
Employees of the entity were rounded early Monday morning by both officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) and constables from the Civil Law Court, in connection to a US$1,850,000 ‘Damages for Wrong by Attachment’ lawsuit, filed by two of the three administrators of the Intestate Estate of the late Lawrence A. Morgan.
There were also conflicting accounts of the summons by attachment and the letter under the signature of Judge Gbeisay to Chief Justice Korkpor.
Judge Gbeisay’s letter, dated April 10, 2018, a copy of which is with the Daily Observer, denied ordering the arrest of all employees of the entity.
“When the sheriff attempted to serve the Management of FrontPage Africa, their staff refused to sign on the court’s precept, but instead that they will all close their offices and every staff will follow the bailiff to the Civil Law Court. At the court, when the sheriff advised that only the Managing Director, deputy and other managers, and not the entire staff, were needed, they refused to leave,” Gbeisay’s communication noted.
The letter also said, “When the matter came to the attention of the judge through their counsel, Cllr. Peal Brown Bull, they were advised to sign for the court’s precepts. When Cllr. Bull appealed for time to prepare and file their bond, the appeal was granted, and she signed for those who signed the court’s precepts.”
Contrary to the letter, a writ of summons by attachment from the very Judge Gbeisay that led to the arrest of the employees and which is also captioned “Action of Damages for Wrong by Attachment,” a copy of which is with the Daily Observer, reads:
“Henry A.K. Morgan and Moses T. Konah, of the City of Monrovia, Montserrrado County, Liberia – Plaintiffs
Henry V.L. Morgan, Edward A. Morgan and Gbein Morgan, of the City of Monrovia, Liberia – First defendants
The FrontPage Africa newspaper by and thru its Board of Directors, Managing Editor, News Editor and all those working under their scope of authority, also of the same address -Second defendants
That writ further reads:
“You are hereby commanded to place an attachment on the above mentioned respondents/defendants; property (ies), including vehicle(ies), equipment and any other assets situated and lying and being in Montserrado County, and elsewhere in the country, owned by the Respondent(s)/Defendant(s) of the above named captioned case for the respondent(s)/ Defendant(s) to satisfy the plaintiff’s request of US$350,000 and have same safely impounded, kept and/or locked.”
Judge Gbeisay also ordered that “the Sheriff of this Court will further proceed to the premises of the respondent(s)/Defendant(s) and cause the properties, personal or real, to be attached consistent with law and take possession and custody of same until otherwise ordered by this Court.”
The lawsuit, dated April 4, was filed by Henry A.K. Morgan and Moses T. Konah, seeking an amount of US$500,000 as special damages, US$1,000,000 representing general damages and US$350,000 as punitive damages against the paper, and also named Henry V.L. Morgan, Edward A. Morgan and Gbein Morgan as collaborators.
The case grew out of claims by Henry A.K. Morgan and Moses T. Konah, who accused Henry V.L. Morgan, Edward A. Morgan and Gbein Morgan of underwriting the cost of what they claimed were defamatory publications, which was published by the newspaper on Thursday, March 8; Monday, March 12; and Friday, March 16, 2018 editions respectively.
The alleged defamatory publication, the lawsuit argued, reads, “the persons appearing here, Mr. Kopeyor Adamah Seh, also known as Henry A.K. Morgan, Anthony C. Morgan and Moses T. Konah are representing themselves as administrators of the estate of Lawrence A. Morgan.”
The announcement further said, “Please be aware that these individuals are not authorized to lease, sell, collect rents or transact any other business on behalf of the Estate of Lawrence Morgan or the Estate of Christine Morgan-Richards.”
They also claimed that FrontPage Africa, without any regard to her ethics and moral conduct, elected to publish such defamatory announcement against the plaintiff on those days.
Even though other newspapers published similar announcements, according to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs on several occasions asked the FrontPage Africa newspaper alone to retract said announcement, which she refused, failed and neglected since then, up to and including the filing of their complaint.
“The publications are malicious libel calculated to expose the plaintiffs to hared, contempt or public ridicule within their communities, among peers and family members,” the document claimed.
Moreover, the suit alleges that the publication had subjected the plaintiffs to criminal sanction, because, under the law, practice and procedure within this jurisdiction to impersonate same is first degree misdemeanor, which is a crime.