DALLAS – Legal woes continue for Deion Sanders long after the school he founded, Prime Prep Academy, closed its doors in 2015.
At a recent hearing in Dallas regarding a lawsuit filed in 2014, Sanders failed to appear, his attorneys withdrew, and the judge assessed sanctions against him.
Lawrence Smith and United States of America v. Deion L. Sanders Individually, et al .was filed in the Dallas Division for the Northern District of Texas. It’s a qui tam (whistle-blower) lawsuit filed in 2014 by Smith, who alleged that the numerous defendants mismanaged the school’s lunch program funds.
According to a 2016 article in the Dallas Morning news, “Sanders, who was fired, rehired, fired and rehired at the school, initially pitched Prime Prep as a school that would create CEOs; succeed where other public schools failed; and do 'good in the hood.'"
According to the same article, after the charter school failed, “Local, state and federal officials launched investigations into wrongdoing. The school failed not because of tough new rules meant to shut down failing charter schools. Instead, financial mismanagement fueled the slow motion collapse and led to the school’s eventual insolvency.”
In the Smith lawsuit, defendants Damien LaMarc Wallace, Chazma Jones, Fredrick R. Mays and others filed a motion for summary judgment July 30 that claims there is no subject matter jurisdiction, but “Even if the court has subject - matter jurisdiction, Uplift’s applications are not 'claims for payment' that would support FCA liability.”
Uplift is defendant Uplift Fort Worth CDC, which filed applications to participate in the federal Summer Food Service Program.
FCA claims are under the False Claims Act and involve allegations of defrauding the government.
An oral argument hearing was set for Aug. 11 in the federal court and Sanders was supposed to appear and comply with providing discovery responses. He did not appear. Costs were assessed against him in the amount of $2,200.
An order signed by the judge noted, “Defendant Deion L. Sanders must produce his responses to the relator’s discovery requests and all responsive documents by the close of business on Aug. 25, 2017, unless otherwise agreed by the parties. As noted in the agreed order dated May 8, 2017 (doc. 266), all objections are deemed waived.”
Sanders’ attorney was allowed to withdraw from the case.
On the same day, Aug. 11, 2017, after the attorneys for the corporation were allowed to withdraw, Judge Irma Carrillo Ramirez signed an order stating that defendant Prime Time Association must appear within 21 days of the order or further sanctions would be taken including possibly the dismissal of the suit by default. Although individuals can represent themselves pro se (without a lawyer), corporations must be represented by an attorney.