The suit, filed in Fulton County State Court, says that Willis slandered Jackson when she talked to a local TV news station and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the incident.
Willis’ “defamatory and disparaging statements have caused Plaintiff to suffer monetary damages due to lost business opportunities and reputational harm,” the suit said.
It claims that Willis made the statements with malice, and intended to harm Jackson. The suit also said Jackson asked Willis to retract the statements, but she refused.
“My character has been defamed,” Jackson said. “I just want to set the record straight.”
Willis directed a reporter to her attorney, Antavius Weems. He said he had discouraged Willis from filing her own suit, saying that the elected officials should “operate in a civilized society,” but would now reconsider that advice.
“No good deed goes unpunished,” Weems said. “We’ll definitely file action in addition to the response. This is superfluous, baseless and harassing.”
In addition to the lawsuit, Jackson came under fire this week when during a candidate forum, she passed out a termination letter for a woman who used to be her aide. Someone asked Jackson why she had gone through four aides in the two-and-a-half years she’d been in office. Calling out one aide by name, Jackson said, “She called me senile, so she left for that,” and handed out the woman’s termination letter, which accused her of insubordination and age discrimination.
An open records request showed that two aides resigned — one after just one day — and Jackson terminated two, saying they “failed to meet the standards of performance” required for the job.
“They fired themselves,” Jackson said. “When you told them what is expected of them, this is what you expect.”
Linda Pritchett, the aide whose termination letter Jackson distributed at the forum, did not respond to a phone call seeking comment. But she attended a city council meeting after the letter was distributed, and called the councilwoman’s actions messy, unprofessional and outrageous.
“There is nothing that anyone can say to justify the inappropriateness of her behavior,” Pritchett said. “This is not the type of conduct that we should expect seeing or coming from any elected official.”
She said Jackson did not consider how passing out the letter would affect her future career. Jackson said the letters were public record, and she believed that Pritchett had taken the job with an agenda.
“She started documenting me and complaining about me from Day One,” Jackson said.
Jackson's opponents in the District 5 race are Corey Alan Reeves, Clyde Eugene Sampson II and Duane L. McClain. Willis is also up for reelection, but she is running unopposed for her District 3 seat.