CHARLESTON – A Kanawha County judge has denied the West Virginia Board of Education's request to submit a question to the state Supreme Court of Appeals to decide whether the former state schools superintendent was an at-will employee.
J. Victor Flanagan, of Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown & Poe said if there is no contract between Jorea Marple and the board, then she was an at-will employee.
Kanawha Circuit Judge James C. Stucky denied the motion to send the question to the state Supreme Court, and is moving the case along.
Flanagan said the board also has an appeal for qualified immunity before the court, which is still pending.
"As long as a state employee is doing something in their official capacity, they cannot be sued," Flanagan said.
In her lawsuit, Marple claims that the school board and broke open-meeting laws when she was fired in 2012. She initially filed her lawsuit in February 2013 against the school board and it was removed to federal court. She later requested the suit be dismissed without prejudice so she could file again in Kanawha Circuit Court.
On April 24, 2014, Marple filed her new lawsuit, also naming L. Wade Linger Jr. as a defendant.
Linger, Marple claims, worked to avoid West Virginia's open-meeting laws and spearheaded the effort to terminate Marple's employment.
Marple claims she suffered an irreparable damage to her name, her reputation and her ability for future employment because of the defendants and that they violated public policy in regards to her firing, defamed her, cast her in a false light and deprived her of her rights in the West Virginia Constitution.
Marple also claims she has suffered a loss of a lifetime reputation in the field of education, has lost her ability to gain employment at a similar level, has sustained extreme mental anguish and suffering, has been impaired in her ability to enjoy life and has had her personal and professional life status damaged.
Marple, the wife of former state Supreme Court Justice and state Attorney General Darrell McGraw, is being represented by Timothy N. Barber; Pat Maroney of Maroney, Williams, Weaver & Pancake; and Andrew MacQueen III.