After looking over a new federal lawsuit filed against him, longtime Cheatham County business owner Jim Jackson wondered aloud yesterday whether defending himself will be "an impossible task" – even though he said he has done nothing wrong.
Alfred K. Nippert Jr., an attorney who lives in Ohio but has kept an office in Ashland City in the past, filed suit against Jackson Friday in Nashville's U.S. District Court. The lawsuit accuses Jackson of breaching his fiduciary duties, gross mismanagement, conversion of corporate property for personal use and fraud in connection with the operations of KCA Enterprises Inc., a company that sold collegiate sports-themed merchandise until it ceased operations and filed for bankruptcy earlier this year.
Jackson is the president and owner of insurance brokerage Jackson, Denney & Davis Inc. and has been in the insurance business for more than three decades in Cheatham County. He also owns and operates a 102-acre horse farm in the area.
Nippert donated funds in 2000 for the Nippert Hall legal education center at the Tennessee Bar Association's downtown Nashville headquarters. His law practice served as city legal counsel to the Cheatham town of Pleasant View until last year. Although he still owns three real estate parcels in Ashland City, there is presently no telephone listing for his firm there.
The complaint, available at this link, says Nippert made several loans to KCA between 2000 and 2003. It asserts Nippert acquired about 30 percent of its stock in the process, while Jackson is said to have owned about 25 percent. "Jackson fraudulently, negligently and/or recklessly misrepresented the existence of additional shareholders to Mr. Nippert in order to present KCA as a larger and more diverse corporation than it actually was," the lawsuit states.
After the loans went bad, Nippert sued in Cincinnati's federal court, eventually winning a judgment of $2.93 million against KCA in November 2008. Before he could collect a penny, KCA filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation on April 24 of this year.
"In connection with KCA’s bankruptcy petition, Jackson fraudulently certified under penalty of perjury, as president of KCA, that he owned 51 percent of the stock of KCA," Friday's filing says. It claims that "Jackson’s statement regarding his percentage of ownership was false, and Jackson knew the statement was false at the time that he made it," indicating his "willful intent to defraud Mr. Nippert and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court."
The lawsuit goes on to claim that Jackson "stored hundreds of boxes of KCA merchandise at his personal residence" without revealing the inventory to the bankruptcy court. It claims he sold some of that merchandise for his own benefit.
Jackson is alleged to have used the corporate assets of KCA to cover car payments, alimony, expenses from his other business entities, and even "his girlfriend’s travel expenses."
Nippert, represented by Jennifer A. Lawson of Lassiter Tidwell Davis Keller & Hogan in Nashville, says in the complaint that evidence emerged during KCA's bankruptcy proceedings of an attempt by Jackson "to sell the corporate assets of KCA without providing for the payment of KCA’s debt to and eventual judgment in favor of Mr. Nippert."
Exhibits to the complaint, filed under seal, are said to include "Jackson’s communications to a potential buyer" as well as a note in which Jackson warns KCA’s bookkeeper to "'only' discuss any financials with me [Jackson] in order to prevent the wrong person from doing or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time."
The complaint demands a yet-to-be-determined amount in compensatory and punitive damages.
On Tuesday, after NashvillePost.com sent the complaint to Jackson, he said he was looking at it for the first time and could not comment on its specifics. But he issued this statement:
"As a general comment, I would say that it is difficult at best to afford to file bankruptcy on a corporation and then afford to defend yourself personally against someone like Mr. Nippert, who is himself an attorney and very wealthy.
"From my perspective today, it appears to be an impossible task to be able to compete with Mr. Nippert's money and his ability to create a situation that I cannot afford to defend regardless of my innocence."