Former court-appointed conservator faces civil suit - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Former court-appointed conservator faces civil suit


The lawyer who was removed from her job as Nashville's public guardian earlier this year is now being sued by a former ward.

Attorney Jeanan Stuart was the court-appointed conservator for Ginger Franklin, who suffered a brain injury after falling down the stairs at her home in 2008.

Conservators are appointed in cases where someone is unable to care for himself or manage his own affairs. Stuart was paid $200 an hour to manage Franklin's affairs - money that was paid out of Franklin's bank accounts.

After Franklin recovered, she found Stuart had allowed her condo to go into foreclosure, had liquidated the contents of her home and had allowed her car to be towed and sold at auction.

"My car is gone. My house was foreclosed on and sold for $36,000. She filed bankruptcy in my name. My credit is ruined," Franklin said.

In 2010, Franklin won a two-year fight to free herself from the conservatorship. Now, she's suing Stuart in civil court for damages.

Stuart's attorney, Bill Hubbard, argued during a motion hearing Thursday that Stuart can't be held liable. He says she has immunity, because she was working under the court's direction.

"Conservators are entitled to absolute judicial immunity," Hubbard told a circuit court judge.

Michael Hoskins, Franklin's attorney, argued Stuart can be held accountable.

"You effectively have a license to steal, where the conservator could abscond with the funds of the ward," Hoskins argued. "And they have no recourse in court because the conservator would be immune."

Stuart's attorney filed a motion to dismiss the case. Judge Hamilton Gayden said he is taking the motion under advisement.

"I've been fighting this fight for five years. And it's not over yet. And I still haven't seen justice," Franklin said after the hearing.

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