The former stepson of Campus Crest Communities CEO Ted Rollins is planning to sue me, apparently in an effort to stop my reporting on the Rollins v. Rollins divorce case. If such a complaint actually is filed, it probably would be a classic example of a SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation).
Zac Parrish, the managing member of Parrish Building Company in Birmingham, is Sherry Carroll Rollins' son by her first marriage to a man named Allen Parrish, who now is in the local insurance business. Zac Parrish was a stepson during his mother's 14-year marriage to Ted Rollins.
During the roughly 22 months of my reporting on unlawful actions connected to Rollins v. Rollins, I have been told numerous times about threats that Ted Rollins has relayed through Zac Parrish. Those usually have involved threats to cut off utilities and support payments for Sherry Rollins and the couple's daughters, Sarah and Emma, who now live in Birmingham.
I reported last Friday on Zac Parrish's threat to "take care of Legal Schnauzer" and voiced my concern that could mean possible physical harm. That was not just idle speculation on my part. I reported on an e-mail that Zac Parrish had sent me last fall, stating that he knew where I lived and had a "dear friend" who lived very close to me. I've been told that Zac Parrish and his older brother, Eric Parrish, are members of a hunting club near Tuscaloosa and make regular use of firearms.
A source inside the Rollins family tells me that Zac Parrish does not intend to cause me physical harm--gee, that's nice to know--but he does plan to file a lawsuit against me. That raises this question: What possible grounds could Zac Parrish have for suing me? The answer: He has no grounds, and given that I had never mentioned him on this blog prior to his threat, he probably doesn't even have legal standing to bring a case.
That means any suit from Zac Parrish would be only for intimidation purposes, to keep me from reporting on matters of public concern. That's the classic definition of a SLAPP. Here is how The First Amendment Project defines a SLAPP at thefirstamendment.org:
Generally, a "SLAPP" is a (1) civil complaint or counterclaim; (2) filed against individuals or organizations; (3) arising from their communications to government or speech on an issue of public interest or concern. SLAPPs are often brought by corporations, real estate developers, government officials and others against individuals and community groups who oppose them on issues of public concern. SLAPP filers frequently use lawsuits based on ordinary civil claims such as defamation, conspiracy, malicious prosecution, nuisance, interference with contract and/or economic advantage, as a means of transforming public debate into lawsuits.
Most SLAPPs are ultimately legally unsuccessful. While most SLAPPs lose in court, they "succeed" in the public arena. This is because defending a SLAPP, even when the legal defense is strong, requires a substantial investment of money, time, and resources. The resulting effect is a "chill" on public participation in, and open debate on, important public issues. This "chilling" effect is not limited to the SLAPP target(s): fearful of being the target of future litigation, others refrain from speaking on, or participating in, issues of public concern.
Zac Parrish will be taking several significant risks if he files a SLAPP case against me:
(1) I've been representing myself in court for about eight years now, so I won't need to invest in a lawyer. As noted in bold above, the main concern of most SLAPP victims is that they will have to shell out a bunch of money to defend themselves. I'm not concerned about that. Also, Zac Parrish and his lawyer won't be able to deal with me through an intermediary; they will have to deal with me head on, and it won't be pleasant;
(2) On any lawsuit brought against me, I will be reporting about it here every step of the way--almost in real time--bringing instant attention to various documents. Most lawyers and parties do not welcome such a spotlight on their unsavory activities;
(3) Lawsuits can lead to countersuits, and anyone who files a bogus lawsuit against me will immediately get hit with a countersuit, for abuse of process and any other relevant claims. My countersuit will be aimed not only at Zac Parrish, but at any individuals, corporations, or institutions who are connected to his reasons for suing me;
(4) If an attorney files a bogus lawsuit on Zac Parrish's behalf, he will be subject to a counterclaim for abuse of process. He also will be subject to Rule 11 sanctions and a bar complaint. Rule 11 sanctions also can be imposed on a party, including Zac Parrish. Any lawyer who values his reputation should think twice about representing Zac Parrish in a lawsuit against Legal Schnauzer.
(5) Filing a bogus lawsuit against me will open up Zac Parrish and his business associates to the discovery process. My friend and fellow blogger Robby Scott Hill has a law degree and is one of the sharpest observers on the Alabama legal scene. He stated the following in a comment to my post about Zac Parrish last Friday:
Always remember this Roger--Once they sue you or decide to testify against you in any state court, you can counterclaim (and) their tax returns become fair game in the discovery process.
One thing I've learned about the legal process: If you are going to sue somebody, it's best to do it and not threaten to do it. Zac Parrish's threats strongly hint at an improper motive, and they also suggest that he is driven by a desire to protect Ted Rollins from scrutiny.
All of this raises this question: Why is Zac Parrish so protective of his former stepfather? What favors has Ted Rollins done for both Zac and Eric Parrish--and why, considering that he's been "the ultimate deadbeat dad" to his own biological children, both daughters?
Here is something curious: Campus Crest Communities has roughly 30 student-housing developments near college campuses around the country, with quite a few more in the pipeline. Zac Parrish heads up a construction company, and Eric Parrish works for Brasfield Gorrie, a Birmingham-based construction company.
I see a pattern of connections to the building industry. Sources have told me that the Parrish boys have benefited greatly from their connections to the Rollins family, the folks behind Orkin Pest Control and one of the wealthiest clans in the country. Why has the Rollins family gone out of its way to ensure that Zac and Eric Parrish are in good business shape?
A source in the Rollins family tells me that Zac Parrish and Ted Rollins have long had "an unusual relationship." What has that relationship entailed, given that Zac Parrish was 10 to 12 years old when Ted Rollins came into his life? Why is that "unusual relationship" leading to threats against your humble blogger?
We will be examining those questions in the coming days.