Archived Story

Davis lawsuit dismissed

Published 9:28pm Friday, February 1, 2013

 A Superior Court judge Thursday dismissed Jimmy Davis’ lawsuit against the City of Washington and other defendants.

Davis is a former fire chief who was terminated by the city in the summer of 2009. His lawsuit was filed in summer 2012. The lawsuit claimed Davis’ termination was illegal.

During an extremely brief hearing, Judge Rusty Duke granted the motion to dismiss, instructing one of the attorneys in the case to write the order concerning his ruling and submit it to him for his signature.

“We’re obviously very pleased with the result. We believe it is the right result under the law,” said Ann B. Smith, the defendants’ attorney. “Obviously, once the court enters its order, the plaintiff would have a chance to appeal if he chooses to do so. That’s within his discretion. We have no control over that.

Duke’s ruling was a let down for the plaintiff’s attorney.

“I am disappointed in the ruling. I’m terribly disappointed for Jimmy Davis and his family,” said Brian Jones, attorney for Davis. “He still has the petition pending before (the Office of Administrative Hearings) in Raleigh. Regan Weaver is the lead counsel on that, but we expect to proceed with that. Then he’ll have a decision to make about whether to appeal this ruling to the N.C. Court of Appeals.”

The other defendants included Mayor Archie Jennings, former City Manager Jim Smith and City Attorney Franz Holscher, each as individuals and in their official capacities.

In his civil lawsuit, Davis listed 14 claims for relief, including intentional infliction of emotional distress and civil conspiracy, seeks a judgment in excess of $10,000, punitive damages and reinstatement will all back pay, raises and “other incidents of employment he would have been entitled to but for the Defendants’ unlawful actions” among others. Davis sought a trial by jury.

In November 2010, Davis filed a petition with the N.C. Office of Administrative Hearings, seeking to appeal the city’s dismissal of his grievance. Davis contends the city had no just cause to fire him.

Davis, in a May 2010 interview, said he’s entitled to a hearing before an OAH official because he served as the city’s emergency-management coordinator in his final years with the city.

That petition remains before NCOAH.

In their motion to dismiss, the city and defendants, in their official capacities, argued they are immune from punitive damages.

“It is well-established under North Carolina law, municipal corporations such as cities and towns enjoy common-law immunity from punitive damages,” reads the motion, which cites several civil cases regarding that claim.

In the plaintiff’s argument to allow the lawsuit to proceed, it reads: “In their capacities as ‘public officials,’ the complaint alleges the Defendants acted beyond the scope of their official duties, and, thus, may be sued in their individual capacities for such actions.” The plaintiff cited a specific civil case (White versus Trew) to support its arguments


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