Judge finds firing was legal

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 8, 2005

After a year of deliberation a summary of judgment was handed down in former Demopolis city clerk Vickie Taylor’s case against the city. Senior District Judge for the Northern Division of the Southern District of Alabama W.B. Hand ruled in favor of the defendants: the city of Demopolis, Cecil Williamson, Jack Cooley, Charles E. Jones, Woody Collins, Melvin Yelverton and Thomas Moore.

Taylor had no comment and referred all statements to her attorney Greg Smith. Smith said he and his client do not plan to let their case rest with this decision.

“We gave reviewed the courts findings and we will pursue an appeal with the 11th Circuit,” Smith said. “We believe some of the findings were suspect and believe the law is contrary to the findings.”

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Smith said they would review the case and could add charges.

“This case isn’t over by a long-shot,” Smith said. “We are also considering other courses of action.”

Williamson was out of town and could not be reached for comment. City Attorney Rick Manley also had no comment.

Taylor began working for the city before being named city clerk in 1996. In Sept. 2004, after winning their elections in Sept. 2004 but before being sworn in, Taylor said city officials met at a “private recreation center known as Majo’s.” According to documents, she said a decision as reached not to re-elect her as city clerk.

In a conversation with Williamson on Oct. 6, 2004, Taylor claimed in documents she was promised she would remain in her position.

However, on Oct. 7, 2004 Taylor said she was placed on administrative leave. documents stated Williamson then called Chief of Police and Public Safety Director Jeff Manuel to escort her from the building and advise her she had been placed on administrative leave. At 7 a.m., the judgment stated, Taylor said Manuel and a uniformed police officer arrived to do just that.

According to the judgment, documents stated on Oct. 7 and 8 Paula Rich, who was acting city clerk, prepared payroll checks using Taylor’s signature stamp as well as City Accounts Payable Clerk Denise Barton.

During the case Taylor registered several complaints including a deprivation of rights without due process, violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, failure to pay overtime, failure to provide notice of her continuation of rights under the city’s group health insurance plan and breach of contract.

Other allegations from Taylor included negligent supervision, tort of outrage, invasion of privacy, interference with a business relationship and false imprisonment based on her being escorted from city hall, as well as wrongful termination and age discrimination. Taylor also alleged her removal was done prematurely and without due process of law.

The summary stated upon reviewing Taylor’s charges, the court found they did not strike them as “so outrageous in character and extreme in degree to go beyond all possible bounds of decency and to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized society.”

The court also found against the false imprisonment charges because Taylor was not taken to a particular place, she was simply told she no longer had a right to be there.

Based on this evidence, the court found the city’s summary of judgment to be granted and Taylor’s denied.