Attorney files to take lengthy battle over Rosa Parks' coat to Michigan Supreme Court

Posted at 11:10 PM, Jun 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-05 23:39:33-04

It’s a legal fight that stems back twelve years ---  in the wake of Rosa parks death in 2005.

The Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development, co-founded by Parks herself, and heirs of the civil rights icon reached a deal to share a percentage of a sale of some historically significant items.

But as part of that agreement, they agreed to produce one very special item -- the coat that Parks was thought to be wearing when she refused to give up her seat on a public bus in 1955.   

The collection was ultimately sold, then put up for display in Library of Congress, yielding the family over $730,000.

But there was one big piece of collection missing. According to the institute's attorney, they admitted they had not see the coat in many years and had no intention of producing it.

Parks' heirs have won in both the probate and appeals courts but the fight over the coat is not over.

"We allege the heirs breached the contract and we also allege they committed fraud when they said we have the coat and we’re going to produce it," said Steve Cohen, attorney for the Institute.

Cohen is now asking the Michigan supreme court to hear the case. But the attorney for Park's heirs believes the coat in question is a non issue, saying in a statement to 7 Action News that it...

“was not a key element, wasn’t meant to be a key element. The agreement was done early in the morning the day before trial was scheduled, and it was done in good faith with the belief that a family member had the coat”

The supreme court is evaluating whether to hear the case, but a decision is not expected for several months.