Amy Feinstein: Southern Charm Civil Case Hits A Snag

Jurisdictional challenges and allegations of a “sham defendant” signal a protracted legal battle …

by AMY FEINSTEIN || There are fresh developments related to the civil suit filed by an ex-nanny to the children of former Bravo TV Southern Charm star Thomas Ravenel – the same ex-nanny who claimed Ravenel sexually assaulted her several years ago (only to walk that claim back several paces in recent months as part of a controversial settlement agreement).

The latest news in this twisting, turning case involves a contemplated move from the South Carolina court system to the United States district court. Not only is the legal team for former nanny Dawn Ledwell fighting the move to federal court, they are also objecting to the corporate defendants’ allegation that Ravenel, a former South Carolina state treasurer, was a “sham” defendant.

If it wasn’t clear before, it is abundantly clear now that there will be no quick resolution in the case of Dawn Ledwell versus Thomas Ravenel; Haymaker Content LLC; Bravo Media Productions, Inc.; NBCUniversal Media, LLC and Comcast Corporation.

The thousands of pages contained in the online filings are challenging to parse, and so FITSNews consulted with two legal sources (one civil, based in San Fransisco and one criminal, with offices in Washington, D.C. and Maryland) who are members of the bar in several states, but prefer to keep their names out of this mess for obvious reasons.

Ledwell’s legal team, led by Ryan C. Andrews, a partner at the Mount Pleasant, South Carolina firm of Cobb, Dill and Hammet, wants the case to remain in state court while the corporate defendants (Haymaker, Bravo, et. al.) have lobbied for the move to federal court.

While this battle rages, the corporate defendants are still arguing the initial filing was fraudulent – as Ravenel was a “nominal defendant.” This means that while the former reality star’s name was on the lawsuit – and is remaining there to provide a premise for the case – he has been removed from any legal jeopardy. Remember, Ledwell settled with Ravenel in connection with a prior sexual assault allegation earlier this year in exchange for his help in proving her case against the corporate defendants.

“Ravenel is not only a nominal forum defendant, but, based on arguments proffered by Plaintiff, he was and is a sham or fraudulent defendant whose presence does not require remand,” the corporate defendants stated in one of their recent filings.

(Click to view)

(Via: Provided)

In the latest chapter of this back and forth, attorneys for Ledwell (above) argued that the corporate defendants’ assessment of his place in the lawsuit was bogus.

Because Ledwell isn’t a resident of South Carolina, and the corporate defendants are also from out of state, it is being argued that Ravenel’s place of residence is not applicable. The agreement Ravenel reached with Ledwell stated that any proceeds of claims (or cross claims) he might have with the corporate defendants will go to Ledwell (as of this writing, the disgraced politician does not have any claims against Bravo, et. al. – and why would he, as he wouldn’t personally reap any reward).

Therefore, according to the defense, Ravenel’s standing is nominal at best.

“Thus, whether or not the Corporate Defendants’ agreements with Ravenel contain indemnification provisions is irrelevant to this case and to this Court’s resolution of Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand,” they noted. “No cross-claims have been filed between Ravenel and the Corporate Defendants in this case, and whether any ever will be is pure speculation.”

They further added that Ravenel and Ledwell’s efforts to inflate the former politician’s importance is also bogus, as he has no claim for punitive damages (Ravenel says he has a claim for “emotional distress”).

According to our legal sources, corporate defendants are generally risk adverse – meaning that at some point in the future they will likely offer some form of settlement protected by a non-disclosure agreement. But we are a long way off from such an offer. The back and forth has just begun, as the corporate defendants – helmed by a team of lawyers handling the matter for NBC Universal and Comcast (including a team on the ground in the Charleston area) – continue to bury Ledwell’s representative, who seems to be working exclusively with firm partner, Hal Cobb, in filing briefs from several angles.

This latest filing also documents a concern that only came to light recently – which is the idea that Thomas Ravenel was never a viable or legitimate defendant, and that he has now joined sides with the woman who accused him of sexual assault in order to even his own personal scores with Bravo and Haymaker, the companies which have the most hands-on role for Southern Charm.

This author made the same point in a recent article, arguing that in addition to avoiding jail time, Ravenel signed on with Ledwell to get even with Bravo, including network producer Andy Cohen, Southern Charm executive producer Whitney Sudler-Smith and the rest of the show’s cast, including his former paramour, Kathryn Calhoun Dennis, and the grande dame of the cast, Patricia Altschul.

(Click to view)

(Via: Instagram)

On social media, Ravenel has raged against all of the above.

“The queen of Southern gentility and the recent author on Southern etiquette has blocked me from Twitter and IG,” Ravenel wrote recently. “Just FYI.”

The one-time federal inmate also suggested that Cohen and other from Bravo were simply “Trump haters” who wanted him gone from the beginning.

“Can’t wait till the intolerant MSM, namely NBC Universal (parent company to Bravo), fires me for being a Trump supporter,” he wrote.

In the latest filing, the corporate defendants acknowledged that this argument buttressed their case, suggesting that “Ravenel may have been a sham/ fraudulent defendant from the outset, unbeknownst to the
Corporate Defendants until now.”

Considering the list of participants in this lawsuit has not been ironed out – and we have yet to establish the jurisdiction in which the case will be heard – it’s a fair assumption that we are looking at potentially years of litigation. In other words, while Ravenel paid Ledwell’s lawyer on her behalf and made a five figure donation to a rape advocacy group, some believe she would have been better off settling for damages with her actual attacker.


(Via: Provided)

Amy Feinstein is a native of Baltimore, Maryland, and has been writing professionally for 25 years. She has a degree in English literature and a degree in British history. Amy enjoys writing about entertainment, sports, lifestyle, television and movies. When not at the computer, Amy can be found in the garden or at yoga class.


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