Covering Louisiana

Jul 10, 2013 4:21 PM

Lavergne files federal suits against dozens following conviction

Convicted killer Brandon Scott Lavergne is staying busy at Angola, suing media outlets, law enforcement, and people who spoke to officials following his 2012 arrest for the murders of Mickey Shunick and Lisa Pate. Lavergne alleges slander, libel, false reporting, and theft of his property in nearly two dozen lawsuits filed over two weeks.

However, unless Lavergne pays up, none of these cases will see a courtroom. Lavergne says he cannot afford counsel and his cognitive ability is being affected by his sleep apnea, but, in court filings, a federal judge says he still needs to pay $400 per case or file a hardship waiver to have the cases heard.

In total, Lavergne filed 22 civil claims in federal court from June 21 to July 3. He claims the case has federal jurisdiction because it was seen nationwide and crossed state lines. This week, Lavergne filed a request to combine seventeen of the suits into one called "Brandon Scott Lavergne vs Mike Harson." He says, "all the following parties work together in a conspiracy to violate my civil and constitution rights." Lavergne asked that the other five suits be heard separately, including the claims against his bank, Dateline NBC, a private investigator, The Daily Advertiser and Busted in Acadiana.

Lavergne pleaded guilty to the Pate and Shunick murders in August 2012, and is serving life in Angola.

Here is a synopsis of each filing:

1) Filed on 6/21/2013: Lavergne is seeking actual and punitive damages against Mike Harson and the District Attorney's Office in Lafayette, Acadia and Vermilion. Lavergne claims information about his case was leaked to the media before he was indicted which tainted the jury pool. He specifies the IDs that were found which he says shouldn't have been taken, had no connection to the Mickey Shunick case, and were not in plain sight during the search of his home. Lavergne also says a plea was taken on the Lisa Pate case which he believes should have been a federal case; Lavergne claims Pate died as the result of a drug overdose at Fort Polk, not in Acadia Parish. Lavergne also says his intellectual property was stolen, namely his poems and pictures that had nothing to do with the cases. He says they "were not satisfied with putting me in prison for life. They wanted to destroy everything I ever was and continued to attack me through lies and false allegations". (6:13-cv-02120-rfd-cmh)

2) Filed on 6/21/2013: Lavergne is seeking damages for the alleged theft of his intellectual property by Dateline NBC, specifically personal photographs that were in his computer and never made public. Lavergne also says Dateline should be held responsible for not fact-checking the claims made in the program. Lies he claims they allowed to air include the fact he was engaged when he was making the escort calls; he says he didn't propose to his girlfriend until June. He also says the program aired statements from police that were inflammatory and baseless, which was slanderous. Lavergne also took objection to the phrasing of his alleged "dark side". Lavergne said they only brought up the example of his "womanizing", but nothing is wrong with being single and having relations with consenting adults. (6:13-cv-02118-rfd-cmh)

3) Filed on 6/24/2013: Lavergne is seeking punitive damages against his sister for alleged libel and slander. He says she made false statements to law enforcement that he made unwanted sexual advances on her. He says she caused him "severe mental anguish, suffering, and pain" and because the statements were made to both Texas and Louisiana authorities, the federal court has jurisdiction. (6:13-cv-02124)

4) Filed on 6/24/2013: Lavergne is seeking punitive damages from a Church Point woman who he says is guilty of slander and libel. He says the woman made false statements claiming Lavergne stalked her, he severely injured her by cutting the brake lines on her car, he buried bodies and stole guns around Fort Polk, and he was a bully in school. (6:13-cv-02122-rfd-cmh)

5) Filed on 6/24/2013: Lavergne is seeking punitive damages against a private investigator for alleged libel and slander. He says the investigator told others that he believed Lavergne was responsible for Ali Lowitzer's disappearance from Spring, Texas. Lavergne says he never owned a white 2010 full size truck that was the alleged evidence that connected him to the crime; he said he had a green truck in 2010. Because of these reports, Lavergne said he was convinced he couldn't get a fair trial and he had no choice but to plead guilty. (6:13-cv-02123)

6) Filed on 6/24/2013: Lavergne is seeking punitive damages against his ex-wife for alleged libel and slander. He says she made false accusations of domestic violence several times; he says her stories change to help whatever situation she is trying to get the "upper hand" on. This includes divorce, child custody and murder charges. (6:13-cv-02121-rfd-cmh)

7) Filed on 6/26/2013: Lavergne is seeking punitive damages against the Public Defender's Office for his "mental anguish, pain, and suffering" and alleged violations of his constitutional rights. He says the Public Defender's Office allowed the attorneys to violate his rights because they knew how much his trial would cost the office. He says his attorneys abandoned him during an interrogation and encouraged him to take a plea despite his claim many allegations in the statement couldn't be proven. Lavergne also claims the office "erroneously said I was sane, when they knew full well I was in deep mental and emotional duress." He goes on to say "they also used the United States constitution like toilet paper and violated every single constitutional right they could in connection with a criminal case. All to save the public defender's office money and to quickly rid itself of a high profile case they did not want to deal with." (6:13-cv-02139)

8) Filed on 6/26/2013: Lavergne is seeking actual and punitive damages against the Acadia Parish Sheriff's Office. He says they tried to question him repeatedly about the Lisa Pate case while in jail, even though he said he told them he wouldn't answer any questions. Lavergne says they also sent his former wife in to question him while she was wearing a wire, and he got kicked out of the welding program in prison because deputies allegedly told prison officials he was going to be indicted. (6:13-CV-02140)

9) Filed on 6/26/2013: Lavergne is seeking actual and punitive damages against a man who served time with him in prison. He says the man should be held liable for Lavergne's lost wages, slander, libel, mental anguish, pain, and suffering. Lavergne says the man bragged to him about all his criminal exploits, including murders, rapes and affiliations in white supremacy groups. Lavergne says because he feared for his safety, and he didn't want to lose face with the other prisoners, he told the inmate stories about being a hit man and killing people. Lavergne says the man was prying him for information to feed to the district attorney, and Lavergne says the man did get a reduced sentence as a result of working with authorities. However, Lavergne claims though the story the inmate told did not match the evidence in the Lisa Pate murder case, but deputies took the statements anyway. (6:13-cv-02145)

10) Filed on 6/27/2013: Lavergne is seeking punitive damages from Judge Herman Clause for alleged mental anguish, pain, and suffering. Lavergne says Clause "deliberately lied from the bench and used his position as a district judge" to violate his rights. Besides denying him access to records following his conviction for various reasons, he says Clause allowed an off-the-record meeting to take place between the attorneys and him ahead of the plea. Lavergne also says Clause accepted a plea in the Lisa Pate case, despite allegedly knowing it was not in the correct jurisdiction. (6:13-cv-02147)

11) Filed on 6/27/2013: Lavergne is seeking actual and punitive damages for the alleged theft and violation of constitutional rights by the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office. He says the treatment received in the Lafayette Parish jail was "cruel and unusual" and was all in an effort to force him to accept a plea. He says there was no air conditioning, he was denied visitors, and was refused treatment for his sleep apnea. Lavergne also writes that the prison chaplain and a pastor were sent to visit him, telling him Jesus wanted him to confess his sins. He says although the chaplain and pastor did nothing wrong, he believes they were sent there to violate his 5th amendment right not to speak because deputies knew he was a Christian. Finally he says deputies leaked evidence to media outlets, including his license and personal photos. (6:13-CV-02143)

12) Filed on 6/27/2013: Lavergne is seeking actual and punitive damages against a Lafayette Police officer and the entire department. He says they are guilty of libel, slander, and theft of actual and intellectual property. Lavergne claims statements they made to Dateline NBC were "totally false and baseless." Included in the claim as false statements was the fact he was engaged the night Shunick was killed; Lavergne says he didn't propose until June. He says they also insinuated he called escort services all the time, but he says he had never called before May 18. He also feels he was unfairly portrayed as a serial killer and made mention of the officer's characterization of Shunick's death as "brutal." Lavergne says she was stabbed twice and shot once, and she died instantly. Lavergne said the officers "left out I had been stabbed 8 times. {Some} of my stab wounds being life-threatening... He also failed to mention, based on my injuries, 6 out of 8 of my stab wounds were defensive in nature." Lavergne says this was in an attempt to slander him. (6:13-cv-02146)

13) Filed on 7/1/2013: Lavergne is seeking punitive damages against his first cousin for alleged libel and slander. Lavergne says she gave an interview to police that alleged he tried to stick his hand up her shirt. He says she made it seem like an attempted sexual assault, but another cousin would testify that it was horseplay and he apologized and left when she got upset. He also said she claimed women in his family and a previous girlfriend called him "aggressive." (6:13-cv-02196)

14) Filed on 7/1/2013: Lavergne is seeing punitive damages against UL. Lavergne says UL sent an officer to interview a woman in Church Point regarding Mickey Shunick without having proper jurisdiction over the case. Lavergne said the woman told them about possible previous crimes Lavergne was involved in and that he was a bully in school. Lavergne claims the officer didn't try to verify these stories or do more investigating, so all of these statements were released following the plea which was not true. (6:13-cv-02194-rfd-cmh)

15) Filed on 7/1/2013: Lavergne is seeking punitive damages against the St. Landry Parish District Attorney's Office for alleged libel and slander. Lavergne says after his arrest for the Mickey Shunick murder, he was charged with simple battery and failure to register as a sex offender. (We believe this was from the unresolved case involving his ex-wife that we found he had an outstanding charge on that was never heard in court.) Lavergne says he asked for a speedy trial, but he never heard back from them. He says he believes the court was "filing all of these charges against me in the middle of a murder investigation to slander me in the eyes of the public" and as a result the jury pool was tainted with false allegations. (6:13-cv-02197-rfd-cmh)

16) Filed on 7/1/2013: Lavergne is seeking punitive damages from a newspaper reporter and The Daily Advertiser. Lavergne says he is the victim of libel, slander, and fraud. Among other reasons, he says the reporter didn't report his side of the story, to his satisfaction, as he requested she do so in their correspondence via mailed letters. He writes by "using fraud to profit online and in print, they have caused me a great amount of mental anguish, pain, and suffering. For that I'm seeking punitive damages. They violated my 1st, 5th, 9th, and 19th amendment rights in slandering me and tainting my future jury pool with false allegations if I win a reversal on my plea." (6:13-CV-2193)

17) Filed on 7/1/2013: Lavergne is seeking punitive damages from a hairdresser in Crowley for libel and slander. He says she gave an interview to a media outlet claiming they had a date planned, but Lavergne says that's not true. He says she caused him pain because his fiancé directly referenced that date when she told him she didn't want to be with him anymore. (6:13-cv-02199)

18) Filed on 7/1/2013: Lavergne is seeking punitive and actual damages from his former fiance's father. Lavergne says the man lied to police about the facts of his case and allowed him to move forward on purchasing a honeymoon and wedding ring, despite knowing he was about to be arrested for murder. He also accuses him of killing his dog that went missing after his arrest. He also says the actions of the father were also a "deciding factor among others" of his fiancé leaving him. (6:13-cv-02191)

19) Filed on 7/1/2013: Lavergne names the Louisiana State Police Department as a defendant in a civil claim for theft, libel and slander; he says troopers violated his civil and constitutional rights. Lavergne claims he wasn't required to have "sex offender" labeled on his license which was the basis for his arrest. He also says his vehicle was illegally searched and his phone confiscated, which he says is theft and a violation of the 4th amendment. Additionally, Lavergne claims troopers sent his fiancé to his father's home to obtain his laptop, which was used to help convict him, because they didn't find it the first time they searched his Church Point home. The images from his phone and computer were aired by media outlets, which Lavergne contends is theft of his intellectual property. He would like actual and punitive damages because he says it caused him to plead guilty to charges he maintained he was not guilty of. (6:13-CV-02189)

20) Filed on 7/1/2013: Lavergne is seeking punitive damages against a reporter with The Independent, as well as the publication itself for alleged libel and slander. He says they published stories about IDs and bloody photos found in his home that were not factual. He says the media uproar that was created caused his attorneys to convince him he "had no choice but to plead guilty to the charges I was maintaining I was not guilty of". (6:13-CV-02198)

21) Filed on 7/1/2013: Lavergne is seeking actual and punitive damages against his former bank. He says they cancelled his cards and froze his accounts following his arrest. He also says they sold his truck below market value and took the remaining difference from the loan out of his daughter's college fund. He said he had $22,000 in his account, and because he couldn't access it, he had to rely on court-appointed attorneys who he claims mishandled his case. He feels the bank still owes him $5,000 and he'd like to give any punitive damages to State Farm to pay them back for a claim payout in June of 2012, although he says he isn't admitting he's guilty of that crime either. (6:13-cv-02119).

22) Filed on 7/3/2013; Lavergne is seeking punitive damages against the publication known as Busted in Acadiana for alleged libel and slander. Lavergne references an article about a body found in Alexandria titled "Could This Be the Work of Brandon Scott Lavergne." He says because the website reaches a world-wide audience, this case should be heard in federal court. (6:13-cv-02202)

 

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