Since January, a federal judge has ruled against Thomas “Tommy” Dickerson of Delhi in three cases, ordering the large-scale farmer to pay some $1.7 million plus interest to Crop Production Services.

The most recent ruling was issued last week by U.S. District Court Judge Robbie James, who knocked Dickerson with a judgment of $1,005,610.09 plus interest. Until Dickerson pays the entire amount of the judgment in that case, the farmer's debt to Crop Production Services will increase $213.52 a day.

James' judgment against Dickerson in Crop Production Services v. B&T Farms LLC and Thomas A. Dickerson is the latest in three significant judgments against Dickerson and the entities represented or controlled by him.

The CPS v. B&T Farms case was originally filed in June 2016 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana along with three other similar cases: Crop Production Services Inc. v. Kelley Ag Service Inc. and Thomas A. Dickerson and  Crop Production Services Inc. v. Dickerson Farms and Thomas A. Dickerson and  Crop Production Services Inc. v. Dickerson Agricultural Partnership and others.

In each of the four cases, Crop Production Services (CPS), a Maryland-based agribusiness which operates an office in Rayville, sought to collect on delinquent loans owed by Dickerson and his four farm entities: B&T Farms LLC, Dickerson Farms, Dickerson Agricultural Partnership and Kelley Ag Services Inc. In each lawsuit, CPS claimed Dickerson's debts were delinquent.

Neither Dickerson nor his farming operations contested CPS' claims in court.

Since Dickerson did not challenge CPS' claims, a judgment by default was ordered against Dickerson and three of his entities: Kelley Ag Service Inc. ($542,439.07 plus interest), Dickerson Farms ($172,567.13 plus interest) and B&T Farms LLC ($1,005,610.09 plus interest). The three debts increase each day until the entire account is paid.

In his ruling, James also ruled that Dickerson's crops, whether grown or growing, as well as all his livestock, poultry, machinery, equipment and other assets belonging to the three farming entities are decreed as security interest for CPS.

Joseph Roberts III and Tom Hayes III, with the Monroe law firm Hayes, Harkey, Smith & Cascio, represent CPS in each of the four lawsuits.

Claims against farmhands dismissed

Some of Dickerson's farm employees, including Joseph “Blake” Lively, Scott Higdon and Theresa Higdon, also were named as defendants in two separate lawsuits pursued by CPS against Dickerson and his farming operations.

In the CPS lawsuit against B&T Farms LLC, Crop Production Services initially sought to hold Lively responsible for the unpaid debts accumulated by Dickerson's farming operation.

In a Nov. 18, 2016 answer and counterclaim (a lawsuit in response), Lively argued he could not be held accountable for the debt to CPS because Dickerson and Franklin State Bank of Winnsboro had perpetrated a fraud.

“Defendant (Lively) avers that any debt he may owe to any party, including Plaintiff (CPS), is because of fraud perpetrated by Tommy Dickerson, facilitated to some degree by Franklin State Bank, to divert, embezzle, launder, convert and steal monies from a number of parties, including but certainly not limited to, Joseph Blake Lively, Crop Production Services, and B&T Farms, LLC,” stated Lively's Nov. 18, 2016 answer and counterclaim.

Lively listed more than two pages of transactions, which he claimed were forgeries exceeding some $3.5 million. The checkbook from which those transactions were made was controlled exclusively by Dickerson, Lively said. Franklin State Bank did not send Lively any of B&T Farms' bank statements, but sent those statements to Dickerson's home instead, according to Lively's answer.

Lively claimed Dickerson's several farming operations were part of a single business enterprise “engaged in a pattern of wrongful scheme to defraud United States Department of Agriculture, if not, others.”

On March 3, Lively and CPS filed a joint motion to dismiss the claims against each other. In a March 7 ruling, James signed off on dismissing CPS' claims against Lively.

In a separate case (Crop Production Services Inc. v. Dickerson Agricultural Partnership and others), CPS sought claims against two other farm employees of Dickerson's: Scott and Theresa Higdon.

Though a default judgment has not yet been issued against Dickerson in this lawsuit, the farmer did not contest the debt, which remains in default.

The Higdons filed a motion to dismiss CPS' lawsuit, claiming they were not “general partners” in Dickerson Agricultural Partnership, that they never signed any documents organizing the company, and that their signatures on such articles of partnership were forged.

The Higdons and CPS filed a joint motion to dismiss on March 2, which was signed the next day by James.

In a Feb. 9 memorandum order by U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Joseph Perez-Montes, the court noted some peculiarities about the Dickerson Agricultural Partnership's articles of partnership.

“The Articles of Partnership name four partners – Scott Higdeon, Theresa Higdeon, Josh Russell and Jimmy Dickerson,” Perez-Montes continued. “(The Higdons' name is spelled with an 'e' in the Articles of Partnership). The Higdons have not produced affidavits from the other persons who allegedly signed the DAP Articles of Partnership — Tony Dickerson (a witness), Chris Nygal (a witness, the spelling of whose name is unclear), and Josh Russell (the fourth 'partner'). 

“Nor have the Higdons produced an affidavit from the notary before whom they all allegedly signed the Articles of Partnership, DeWanna P Casiday, Notary ID 066100. However, it is curious that the Articles of Partnership gave the same address for each partner, 845 Lamar Church Road, Delhi, Louisiana, which is the address of Dickerson's Richland Parish farm.”

Both Lively and the Higdons revived their legal arguments against Dickerson, Franklin State Bank and others in a lawsuit filed in Fifth Judicial District Court, as first reported by The Franklin Sun last week.

Monroe attorney Sedric Banks represents the Higdons and Lively.

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