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Powerful company counter sues family over historic cemetery

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PLAQUEMINE- A family fighting against a powerful chemical company over a historic cemetery was slapped with a shock in court.

The family accuses Axiall of limiting access to the cemetery and taking a public road. Axiall is now suing the family, and their attorney called those actions outrageous.

The plaintiffs in the original lawsuit are made defendants in court filings late last month. The family called the counter lawsuit a cheap shot and an intimidation tactic. They say they aren't intimidated at all.

Janice Dickerson never plans to stop fighting for her beloved relatives interned in a historic cemetery. A chemical plant built all around it, and blocked her out. She continues to fight just to gain access to pay her respects. It has been documented on multiple visits with her to the property. A week ago, the chemical company had other plans when it filed the counter suit. Axiall is suing the family for suing them.

"It's a smokescreen, and the intent is to try to get us upset and nervous and back off," Dickerson said."Let them take that cemetery and let them destroy it because they are landlocked in order to expand their facility. It makes me fight them even harder."

For several years, we've been following Dickerson's fight against the powerful chemical company. Dickerson's relative, former slave Robert Taylor set up the Revilletown Cemetery in 1881, for the purpose of burying those in the Revilletown Community for free. But, Dickerson has encountered problem after problem in recent years trying to gain access just to pay her respects. The plant must unlock gates, and refused to unlock a second gate for handicap folks to drive in on one of our visits. That leaves them having to cross their property since the plant blocked off the cemetery with chain linked fences.

"We have several reports where they've called the police for us," Dickerson said. "Telling them we're trying to get in the cemetery, who does Janice Dickerson think she is, she's trying to get into the cemetery. All kind of crazy stuff and it's all documented."

Dickerson's attorney Chris Meeks out of New Orleans says the suit filed by Axiall is outrageous. Axiall's suit says the following about Dickerson's suit. "The above referenced petition is based on misstatements, half-truths, omissions, fabrications and or other spurious assertions which will be shown at the trial of this matter." Axiall is now asking for legal fees and damages after the family sued them since the chemical plant blocked their access.

"Not surprised because we live in Louisiana," Dickerson said. "If you steal property, and the system is corrupt, you will try anything. This is what they are doing. They've gotten away with so much corrupt stuff for so long, I guess they figure we're going to do this too, and they will stop and back off, but they are sadly mistaken."

This case is due back in court in August, but could head back sooner with Axiall's counter-suit. We reached out to four attorneys with Axiall listed in the counter suit against the family members. We did not hear back.


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