Lawsuit against county dismissed
Published 10:56 am Wednesday, December 5, 2018
A judge dismissed the wrongful termination and whistleblower lawsuit against the Clark County Fiscal Court, saying the allegations were not a violation of the state whistleblower statute.
The ruling was issued Friday by Clark Circuit Judge Jean Chenault Logue. She previously dismissed Clark County Judge-Executive Henry Branham and four county magistrates, Pamela Blackburn, Joe Graham, Sheila McCord and Robert Blanton, as defendants in the case.
The suit was filed in October by former county custodian Nichole Lainhart, who claimed she was fired in July after reporting a situation involving Clark County Attorney Brian Thomas and another county employee working in Branham’s office.
The two magistrates who voted against terminating her employment, Daniel Konstantopoulos and Greg Elkins, were not named in the lawsuit. Thomas was not included as a defendant but was identified in the suit. The county employee was not identified.
Branham said Lainhart’s employment ended after several issues including violating the county’s social media policy by posting while on the clock and other job performance issues.
Lainhart claimed she was fired after reporting a verbal altercation between Thomas and another county employee in Branham’s office.
In a November hearing before Logue, the county’s attorney said the incident was already known to county officials, while a whistleblower suit protects those who expose criminal wrongdoing or malfeasance, not office disagreements.
“Obviously, I’m pleased,” Branham said. “More than that, it gives me and all our administrators confidence that our policy for employees is strong. I felt we were on solid ground with our actions.”
Logue dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning it can not be reinstated, but said her decision could be appealed.
“We respect the decision but respectfully disagree with it,” Lainhart’s attorney Matt Ellison said. “I have not talked to my client yet about an appeal, but I guess that will probably happen.”