Summers Co. attorney refiles breach suit against McGraw

CHARLESTON – A Summers County attorney is again alleging the state Attorney General's Office used bait-and-switch tactics in offering her a job.

Jenny A. Bonham on March 8 filed a breach of contract suit against Darrell V. McGraw Jr. in Kanawha Circuit Court. In her complaint, Bonham, 49, of Hinton, alleges she was hired as an assistant attorney general to work near her home only to be reassigned to another part of the state and later discharged in less than two weeks.

Bonham on Oct. 27 filed a similar suit against McGraw. However, it was dismissed a month later on a motion filed by the Office's outside legal counsel, Billie Jo Streyle and James C. Marshall III, on the grounds Bonham did not file a 30-day pre-suit notice.

In the suit, Bonham says she applied for an assistant AG position representing the Division of Motor Vehicles in cases before the Office of Administrative Appeals in the counties closest to her. In Bonham's case those were Mercer, Greenbrier and Raleigh counties.

According to the suit, Bonham was hired on Oct. 29, 2010, by Managing Deputy Attorney General Barbara Allen. She started work three days later.

On Nov. 4, Bonham began working in the Greenbrier Valley-area. However, by that afternoon, Bonham alleges Allen sent her a message to an outdated e-mail address reassigning her to the eastern panhandle.

In her suit, Bonham avers on the date she was hired, she provided DMV her current telephone number, and e-mail address. Though the suit is unclear what happened in the interim, Bonham maintains Allen on Nov. 15 "acknowledged the impossibility of the assignment and discharged [Bonham] from her employment."

Sometime following her dismissal, Bonham alleges she submitted a bill to the AG's Office for the work she performed. Though the suit does not specify the total hours she worked, Bonham billed at $200 an hour.

Upon receiving the bill, the AG's Office refused to pay it. Though the Office failed to sign her on as state employee, Bonham says she was told she "would be paid as an employee at the rate of pay for the job for which she was hired."

However, on an unspecified date, Bonham alleges the Office, despite its refusal to do so initially, asked her to provide information to be paid as a vender instead of an employee. That hit a snag due to Allen making "false claims regarding contacting [Bonham] for payment arrangement."

Specifically, Bonham alleges Allen "left a detailed message on voice mail, which such voice mail did not exist at the time and currently does not exist."

In her suit, Bonham alleges since Nov. 15, 2010, the AG's Office has "made it impossible for [her] to be paid properly in one way or another, as vendor or employee." Along with judgment for $35,000, she seeks liquidated damages triple the judgment, 30 days wages and benefits, credit for state employment, 10 percent pre-judgment interest from Nov. 17, 2010, court costs and attorney fees.

She is represented by her husband, John T. Bonham II.

Currently, the case is assigned to Judge Jennifer Bailey. However, in Bonham's previous suit, Bailey recused herself citing previously hiring Allen, and serving with her as co-counsel in unspecified litigation.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 12-C-437

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