ATLANTA — Former professional baseball and football player Vincent “Bo” Jackson, a running back who won the Heisman Trophy at Auburn, has won a $21 million verdict in his civil case against his niece and nephew for trying to extort him.
The Feb. 2 decision included a permanent protective order barring Thomas Lee Anderson and his sister, Erica M. Anderson Ross, from further bothering or contacting Jackson and his immediate family members. The Andersons also must stay at least 500 yards from the Jacksons and remove from social media any content about them, news outlets reported.
The lawsuit, filed in April, alleged that Jackson’s relatives tried to extort $20 million from him through harassment and intimidation.
“Unfortunately for those attempting to extort $20 million dollars from Jackson and his family, Bo still hits back hard,” Jackson’s attorneys — Robert Ingram and David Conley — said Monday in a news release about the case.
Jackson, 61, claimed the harassment started in 2022 and included threatening social media posts and messages, public allegations that put him in a false light, and public disclosure of private information intended to cause him severe emotional distress, WSB-TV reported. He said Thomas Anderson wrote on Facebook that he would release photos, text and medical records of Jackson to “show America” that he wasn’t playing around, the lawsuit alleged.
The Andersons, with help from an Atlanta attorney, demanded the money in exchange for ending their conduct, Jackson said. He said they threatened to appear at a restaurant near his home and disrupt a charity event he hosted in April in Auburn as a means of harassment and intimidation.
Jackson feared for his safety and that of his immediate family, the lawsuit states. It sought a stalking protective order against the Andersons as well as unspecified compensation for intentional infliction of emotional distress and invasion of privacy. Jackson also brought a civil conspiracy claim against the siblings.
The court found that there was no legitimate purpose for these actions and that even after receiving a cease and desist letter from Jackson’s attorneys, the intimidation and harassment continued.
Cobb County Superior Court Judge Jason D. Marbutt said in his order that neither the Andersons nor their attorneys rebutted Jackson’s claims or participated in the case after a May 2023 hearing, when they consented to a temporary protective order, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The judge found the Andersons to be in default, accepting as true all of Jackson’s allegations, the newspaper said.
“Reasonable people would find defendants’ behavior extreme and outrageous,” Marbutt wrote. “The court saw evidence that an attorney representing defendants claimed his clients’ conduct would cease for the sum of $20 million.”