Cherokee Nation Reacts To Capobiancos' Over $1M Lawsuit

Wednesday, November 6th 2013, 5:23 pm
By: Craig Day

The Cherokee Nation is reacting to a lawsuit that seeks more than a million dollars in legal fees from Dusten Brown and the Cherokee Nation.

After Dusten Brown handed over custody of his biological daughter Veronica to Matt and Melanie Capobianco, and almost a month since Brown and the Cherokee Nation announced they wouldn't pursue any further legal action in the custody fight, Brown's supporters thought the battle was over.

"First of all, I don't think she should have ever been split up from her dad anyway," said Jason Kelley.

But now, attorneys for the Capobiancos are asking a court to force Brown and the Cherokee Nation to pay legal fees.

"I think everyone thought we were kind of winding up, and all of a sudden we see this filing, and everyone was pretty shocked about it," said Chrissi Ross Nimmo, the Cherokee Nation's Assistant Attorney General.

11/5/2013 Related Story: Adoptive Parents Sue Cherokee Nation, Dusten Brown For More Than $1M

Ross Nimmo is also surprised and disappointed.

The fees in the suit total more than $1 million.

"Dusten lost his child, and now he's potentially facing bankruptcy if there is an award, a large award of attorney's fees against him," Ross Nimmo said.

In the court motion, the Capobiancos' attorneys say they worked more than 2,100 hours at an average of nearly $500 an hour--expenses they say would never have been incurred had Brown and the Cherokee Nation "obeyed the Adoption Decree issued by the State of South Carolina."

Special Coverage: The "Baby Veronica" Case

"What's disappointing in this case is these attorneys have made public comments that this is pro bono representation," Ross Nimmo said.

Pro Bono is professional work undertaken voluntarily and without payment.

Ross Nimmo fears the latest litigation could hinder reconciliation efforts.

"If there is an effort for Dusten to be involved in Veronica's life, I can't see that this new filing does anything but hurt that," she said.

That also worries Dusten Brown supporter Jason Kelley.

"I think it's bull, I don't think it's right," Kelley said.

The Capobiancos have been cooperative in allowing contact between Dusten and Veronica.

Ross Nimmo said the latest legal action by their attorneys could have long term repercussions for anyone wanting to contest the legalities of an adoption. She said it may discourage birth parents from seeking custody of their children if they fear they could be sued for large legal bills.

Read the full eight-page lawsuit