Former mayor's son sues Hurricane over his firing

By Chris Dickerson | Feb 27, 2008

WINFIELD – A former employee –- and the son of the former mayor -- has sued the City of Hurricane over his firing.

WINFIELD – A former employee –- and the son of the former mayor -- has sued the City of Hurricane over his firing.

Raymond Douglas Peak filed his suit Feb. 4 in Putnam Circuit Court. Mayor Scott Edwards and City Council members Donald Chaney, Brian Ellis, Lana Call and Patty Hager also are listed as defendants.

Doug Peak's complaint, filed by attorney Lonnie Simmons of the Charleston law firm of DiTrapano, Barrett & DiPiero, says he was hired as City Superintendent on Dec. 1, 1987. In 2000, he became Water and Sewer Superintendent.

In March 2003, Peak returned to work after he suffered injures, and he was employed as the IT Manager and Benefits Coordinator for the city.

All of that occurred when his father, Raymond Peak, was mayor of Hurricane. The elder Peak was mayor for more than 40 years.

On July 1, 2007, Edwards became mayor. The next day, he presided over his first City Council meeting where Peak says Chaney accused him and City Manager Ben Newhouse of misusing a city vehicle and falsifying attendance records to play golf. Chaney claimed to have evidence of such.

Shortly thereafter, Peak says he provided records and information showing these allegations were false. But he says the defendants made no effort to clear the public record and to "advise the citizens of Hurricane that Defendant Chaney's allegations were lies."

The complaint later says Edwards told Peak that Chaney apologized for his behavior at the meeting, but nothing was done to publicly clear his name.

Peak claims Edwards also took a number of actions affecting his ability to perform his job.

"Plaintiff explained to Defendant Edwards that bids would have to be placed for the cell telephone service," the complaint states. "Defendant Edwards disagreed and awarded the telephone contract to one of his friends.

"Defendant Edwards took control of all pass keys and demanded all computer passwords."

Peak says he sent a letter on July 12 asking to have the pass keys so "he could do his job." He says he received no response.

Peaks says Edwards also required him to show workers from Edwards' computer company Netranom how the computer networking system was set up.

On Aug. 6, Peak says the defendants met and decided to fire him.

"On Aug. 7, 2007, plaintiff was met by Defendant Edwards in the parking lot upon his arrival at work," the complaint states. "Defendant Edwards demanded all of plaintiff's keys, informed him that he was fired and ordered to leave the premises."

In the three-count complaint, Peak says the defendants violated the Whistleblower Law by wrongfully and illegally firing him, violated his state and federal constitutional rights and violated public policy of West Virginia.

Peak says he has suffered numerous compensatory damages, including past and future lost wages, annoyance, inconvenience, embarrassment, humiliation, emotional distress and expenses including attorney fees.

He seeks full reinstatement, with all salary increases, bonuses and other related fringe benefits he would have received.

Peak also says the defendants' actions were "so cruel, reprehensible, fraudulent, willful and wanton, malicious, and in blatant and intentional disregard" of his rights that he seeks substantial punitive damages.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Ed Eagloski.

Putnam Circuit Court case number: 08-C-36

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