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End is sought to suit
Ex-firefighter is seeking to dismiss case
Friday, October 26, 2012
A former Martinsville firefighter is seeking dismissal of his $3 million-plus civil suit against the former city manager and two fire officials, according to attorneys involved in the case.
The civil suit, filed Oct. 25, 2011, named former city manager Clarence Monday, Fire Chief Kenneth Draper and Assistant Fire Chief Kris Shrader. It alleged that they took part in a malicious prosecution of John “Jay” Russell Jr., willfully injured his reputation and intentionally caused him emotional distress.
The suit also alleged that Monday defamed Russell when he authorized a news release after the criminal trial that, the complaint claimed, insinuated that Russell was in fact guilty of the charges of which he had just been found not guilty.
Martinsville attorney Martha Medley, who, along with attorney Jim Daniel, represented Monday, Draper and Shrader, said Thursday the motions to voluntarily dismiss the defamation and intentional causing of emotional distress where filed earlier. Judge Martin Clark has entered an order to accomplish that, she said.
The motion to voluntarily dismiss the malicious prosecution claim now has been filed but an order dismissing it had not been entered by Clark as of Thursday, Medley said.
Both she and Jim Haskins, who represented Russell in the case, said they expect the judge will file that order.
Haskins said it would not be proper for him to comment on details of the case until the judge acts.
But Haskins did say that during the discovery process of the civil case, “some witnesses and parties have testified in a way that we didn’t anticipate and along the way the judge has made certain evidentiary rulings that we believe, in consultation with our client, the most prudent course would be to unsuit the case.”
Medley and Daniel represented the three defendants as part of their work for the Virginia Municipal League.
“We are extremely pleased,” she said of the outcome.
Both she and Haskins said theoretically, the case could be refiled within six months of when the judge’s order is entered.
Haskins would not say if he anticipates that happening. Medley said, “given the judge’s rulings in the case, I would not expect it to be refiled.”
Russell worked for the city for 21 years, including 16 years in the fire and EMS department, when he was fired on June 30, 2009. About seven months later, the former assistant fire chief was indicted on felony charges of grand larceny, embezzlement, obtaining money by false pretense and misappropriation of public funds.
All four charges were dismissed in October 2010 at the end of a two-day criminal trial in Martinsville Circuit Court.