Smyrna Town Court Clerk Brittany Stevens has filed a $150,000 defamation lawsuit against the Nashville man and “John Does” who accused her and her brother, lawyer and County Commissioner Robert Stevens, of allegedly breaking state campaign finance laws.
Tony Sees of Nashville filed a complaint with the Tennessee Bureau of Ethics & Campaign Finance Ethics Commission accusing Brittany Stevens of not disclosing as a source of income her alleged compensation from Stevens & Stevens PLLC law firm on her 2019 statement of disclosure form. The complaint also says Robert Stevens certified the form as true, according to the lawsuit.
Robert Stevens posted on social media that the complaint was retaliation for his criticism of public officials, according to a previous story in the Murfreesboro Post. Robert Stevens, on Facebook, called the complaint “false, malicious and defamatory. We believe that this individual was acting as a third party conduit for the actual author of the false complaint.”
Brittany Stevens referred a request for comment to her lawyer, Terry Fann, who was not available at press time.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday, Sept. 5 in the Circuit Court for Davidson County. The court office said Sees had not filed any response or listed an attorney’s name as of Thursday, Sept. 12.
Brittany Stevens says in the lawsuit that, “Defendants John Does, whose identities are currently unknown and who are yet to be identified, are believed by your Plaintiff to be adult citizens and residents of Rutherford County, Tennessee. Upon information and belief, it is submitted that Defendants John Does acted in concert with Defendant Sees in the facts alleged herein.”
On or around Aug. 11, the John Does allegedly began circulating a partially drafted and hand-written ethics complaint form that lacked the complainant’s identifying information and signature with a notary seal, according to the lawsuit. The unknown person or persons allegedly circulated the complaint using a free disposable email address service that erases all emails from the recipient’s email inbox after one hour, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit accuses Sees of allegedly signing the complaint on or around Aug. 13. The signed complaint is identical to the complaint that was previously circulated; the handwriting of the complaint “differs and is obviously written by two (2) different persons,” the lawsuit says. Also, according to the lawsuit, Sees is not a registered voter in Rutherford County or Smyrna, nor is he a constituent of the plaintiff.
The lawsuit says the claim that Brittany Stevens failed to disclose income from her brother’s firm on her 2019 statement of disclosure interests form, with her brother’s certification, is false. The lawsuit says that the complaint’s statement that she violated state law is false. Also false is the complaint’s claim that Brittany Stevens may have been involved in cases where she represented private clients in her jurisdiction while having access to information from her official job, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also labels as false claims that the Stevenses violated state law by allegedly providing legal advice to private clients without disclosing it to the commission.
According to the lawsuit, Sees has refused to retract his statements or name any person who allegedly worked with him on the complaint.
Brittany Stevens has not represented a client nor practiced law in Rutherford County since she was appointed as interim court clerk on Feb. 23, 2016, the lawsuit says. In regards to her LinkedIn profile having listed her law practice, as stated in the complaint, her page was not maintained nor current and is not proof she practiced law, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit claims defamation and civil conspiracy. The lawsuit also says Brittany Stevens has suffered actual economic and non-economic damages, which she is entitled to recover, including her reputation, humiliation and embarrassment, mental anguish and anxiety.
Brittany Stevens asks for $50,000 in compensatory damages, $100,000 in punitive damages, plus attorney’s fees and other costs. She also asks that the defendants be ordered to publicly retract what she says are false allegations in the complaint.