LIMA – Mayoral candidate Sharetta Smith has a history of civil lawsuits against her, according to The Lima News court records obtained from Lima, Toledo and Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Smith told the newspaper the lawsuits were the result of several things – poor decisions made as a young adult, her struggle to improve by getting a college education, and health issues involving herself and her children. She said she did not shirk her responsibilities by repaying that debt and fully disclosed her financial difficulties to the Tennessee Supreme Court when she sought a legal license, which she granted.
“Some would say that my personal financial difficulties disqualify me from public service. I disagree, and I believe the 80% of Americans in debt – the four in five Americans who also owe money – would also disagree. I fully disclosed my debts and lawsuits in my application to practice law in Tennessee. After reviewing my disclosures, the Tennessee Supreme Court granted me a license to practice law, ”Smith said in a statement to the Lima News.
Before returning to Lima, Smith served as a magistrate in Chattanooga. Previously, the Perry High School graduate admitted that she struggled while living in Lima. She wrote about these challenges in a February 5, 2016 column under the headline – “I love Lima, but I can’t pretend.” It was published as part of a week-long series in The Lima News: “Lima: In black and white”.
In that column, Smith noted: “As a young adult I made mistakes – pregnant at 18; three children at the age of 21, all born out of wedlock. I lived in Section 8 housing, bought groceries with food stamps, and ran to LACCA to get my electricity paid for when I ran into more than a month that money. I started college, quit, then started over. I have repeatedly sought opportunities to create a different life for myself and my children. But I couldn’t find this life in Lima.
She finished college and got a law degree, but it comes at a cost.
“I graduated with about $ 40,000 to $ 50,000 in debt, then went to law school and racked up more debt to pay for my law school. I had living expenses, I was able to repay my student loans and look after my children. I know, then people will say, “well, she’s a lawyer” and I was only making $ 42,000 a year, and even as a magistrate, I was only making $ 60,000. Besides being a single mom with three kids, I was also diagnosed with cancer when I didn’t have health insurance, and so the medical bills you see are a result of the need to follow up. medical treatment and these were satisfied. Not only did I have medical bills, but one of my children also has a chronic illness (sickle cell anemia), ”Smith said. “Not only have sickle cell anemia and cancer had a huge impact on our health, they’ve also had a huge negative financial impact,” Smith said.
During her journey to become Chief of Staff to Mayor David Berger, she faced many legal challenges.
“I have unpaid debts. I take full responsibility and am grateful that most of these bills have now been paid and I have entered into payment plans to reimburse the others. I have never ignored my responsibilities and I have never filed for bankruptcy. However, I will meet my obligations slowly but surely, ”said Smith.
Smith brought a civil action against her in Perrysburg City Court in April 2003. The Toledo Clinic sued for a judgment of $ 842.
“In all likelihood, it was probably a medical bill for my child,” Smith said.
Jefferson Capital Systems LLC, a collection agency, also filed a lawsuit in Perrysburg City Court against it in June 2020. They were looking for $ 10,592, but that case was dismissed in February this year for “lack of prosecution.” .
Smith was the subject of two civil lawsuits against her in Toledo City Court by Apple Tree Nursery School, one filed in October 2004, asking for $ 3,877 plus court costs and the other in February 2006. The two lawsuits were dismissed without prejudice to the plaintiff’s expense for lack of service as she did not receive papers because she had moved from her former home.
“I wasn’t aware that was hanging out there,” Smith said.
A Lima court records check indicates a few civil lawsuits filed in 2006, one from The Learning Castle Day Care, the other – an eviction judgment filed by the Allen Metropolitan Housing Authority.
In the Learning Castle Day Care case, a judgment of $ 561 was ordered against Smith, which she paid.
In Tennessee, attorney Kenneth Rannick sued Smith in April 2008 and got a judgment of $ 800, which she paid
In a lawsuit brought by Erlanger Health System in December 2011, Smith was ordered to pay $ 11,710, which she paid.
Erlanger Health System filed another lawsuit against Smith in March 2014, where she was ordered to pay $ 636, which she did.
First Heritage Credit filed a complaint in March 2015 for $ 4,147 which it also paid.
In a lawsuit filed by David Lyons in May 2015, Smith was ordered to pay $ 6,250. This case is listed as “pending” in court documents.
“I understood that there was nothing special about me,” Smith said.
Smith apparently still faces two other pending lawsuits, one filed by Erlanger Health System in January 2016. The last entry on this case dates back to February 2017, stating “Return-D1-NOT FOUND HOUSE IS VACANT”.
“I was told exactly what you – say they tried to serve me. And, I wasn’t living there at the time, I had moved back to Ohio, ”Smith said.
Another lawsuit was filed in October 2017 by Stone River Inc., assignee of Crest Financial Services LLC. The last court entry was submitted in February 2018 as “Return-D1-NOT FOUND”.
“I also called this Crest Financial Services. I have no idea who they are. I checked them out on Better Business Bureau – they have about 32 complaints, and the phone number listed is offline. And that also says that they are bankrupt. So I don’t know what it is, ”Smith said.
At one point, Smith’s car was also picked up from the parking lot at Lima Municipal Center.
“Yeah, but I ended up getting my car back. He was behind on the payments, ”Smith said.
Smith’s financial difficulties were a learning experience for him.
“As a candidate for mayor, I know I have lived a busy life with issues that regular workers face every day. I am fully committed to doing everything in my power to fight so that we all have a fair chance to have a decent quality of life, ”said Smith.
Lima mayoral candidate Sharetta Smith said she faced financial and health hurdles “without feeling sorry for myself, without blaming others and without cursing my fate.” – Page 5A
Contact Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.