Luling businessman Neal Clulee has filed a defamation lawsuit against St. Charles Parish President V.J. St. Pierre alleging that St. Pierre has spread malicious information that has kept Clulee from serving on the New Orleans Aviation Board.
Clulee's appointment to the airport board was first blocked by the New Orleans City Council, which failed to approve him in a 3-3 tie. When the St. Charles Parish Council once again nominated Clulee to the post, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu filed suit asking a judge to declare that he has sole appointing powers to the aviation board. However, Parish Council members continue to insist that a 1985 agreement gives them the power to appoint a representative.
Clulee says that St. Pierre, who vetoed Clulee’s appointment to the board but was overridden by the council, voiced his opposition to Landrieu and has “publicly disseminated false and malicious statements” about Clulee.
According to the lawsuit, St. Pierre reportedly told Councilmen Larry Cochran, Clayton “Snookie” Faucheux and former Councilman Dennis Nuss that Clulee was a crook and implied that he was in the mob. Clulee’s lawsuit also says that St. Pierre “asserted as fact that Neal Clulee had previously unlawfully hauled and dumped contaminated material onto New Orleans airport property.”
Clulee says St. Pierre repeated many of those same remarks at a government retreat and at a crawfish boil.
“As a result of the aforementioned acts, as well as others that will be proven at trial, Neal Clulee has yet to be appointed to the New Orleans Aviation Board, an appointment that he truly desires to hold in order to serve the citizens of St. Charles Parish, and has had his reputation maliciously attacked by the most powerful person in parish government, the Parish President, causing him personal embarrassment and damage to his reputation in the St. Charles Parish community,” the lawsuit says.
Clulee is suing for an amount proven to be reasonable at trial.
According to parish spokeswoman Renee Simpson, St. Pierre is not commenting on the merits or specifics of the suit itself as per advice from both his lawyer and the parish's legal department.
The St. Charles Parish Council has set aside $100,000 in order to defend their actions in Clulee’s appointment.