CHARLESTON – West Virginia has spent more than $63,000 so far defending the state Board of Education and its members in lawsuits filed by former Superintendent Jorea Marple.
West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse had filed a Freedom of Information Act regarding the payments and released the results Tuesday.
Marple, who was fired two years ago, alleges she was unlawfully terminated and that the board’s vote on the matter violated open meeting laws. She filed her complaint in April in Kanawha Circuit Court. A nearly identical suit had been filed in federal court before that, but it was withdrew with the state complaint.
Marple is the wife of former state Attorney General Darrell McGraw.
The total for three payments made to state Board of Education attorney Victor Flanagan, a member of the Charleston firm of Pullin Fowler Flanagan Brown & Poe, is $63,055.32, according to the FOIA documents from the West Virginia Department of Administration's Board of Risk and Insurance Management.
“It’s remarkable but somehow no surprise that the McGraw family continues to cost West Virginia taxpayers and West Virginia students," WV CALA Executive Director Greg Thomas said. "The nearly $70,000 spent defending against her lawsuits could have been spent on improving West Virginia’s education system.
"Instead, as Ms. Marple has filed multiple lawsuits in a number of jurisdictions, the cost to taxpayers continues to grow."
Thomas said WV CALA filed the FOIA request to see what the bottom line was for West Virginia taxpayers.
“We appreciate the West Virginia Board of Risk and Insurance Management promptly responding to our request for information related to the cost of defending the lawsuits filed by Ms. Marple," he said. "We feel it’s important for West Virginians to know how much Ms. Marple’s lawsuits are costing West Virginia taxpayers and students.
“The McGraw family has a record of spending large amounts of taxpayer dollars. It wasn’t long ago that former Attorney General Darrell McGraw spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on trinkets and a self-promotion media campaign.
"Thankfully those days are over, and let’s hope the taxpayer costs won’t continue to rise on the Marple lawsuits."
In her lawsuit, Marple seeks punitive damages for loss of reputation, a loss of ability to get a similar job and mental anguish. The board, however, says it acted properly and says it has immunity from lawsuits of monetary claims. It has asked Kanawha Circuit Judge Jim Stucky to dismiss Marple's case.
McGraw, who served as attorney general for 20 years, lost the 2012 general election to current AG Patrick Morrisey. Before that, McGraw served on the state Supreme Court from 1976 to 1988.