Former Mingo deputy case goes to federal court

By Steve Korris | Jul 24, 2008

CHARLESTON – Mingo County sheriff's sergeant Roy Glenn Messer, who lost his job according to a June 26 opinion of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, seeks to overturn the ruling at U.S. district court in Charleston.

By the time the Supreme Court ruled that Sheriff Lonnie Hannah could fire Messer, he already had sued county commissioners and Hannah to save his job.

Messer sued in Mingo County on May 12, and county commissioners Greg Smith, John Mark Hubbard and David Baisden removed the suit to federal court on June 30.

Hannah, who could have blocked removal, consented to it.

The court assigned the case to District Judge John Copenhaver, with Magistrate Judge Mary Stanley in charge of discovery.

On July 3, Carter Elkins of Huntington moved to dismiss the county commissioners.

He wrote, "Plaintiff's complaint is replete with a litany of alleged conduct on the part of Sheriff Hannah, but virtually devoid of any allegations against the County Commission."

Under West Virginia law, he wrote, a county commission has no responsibility for a sheriff's management of deputies.

He wrote that "the crux of the matter seems to be that Sheriff Hannah allegedly discriminated against him, retaliated against him, harassed him and intimidated him."

For Hannah, Thomas Kleeh of Charleston wrote July 7 that the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals issued its decision in Hannah's favor.

"The plaintiff is estopped from bringing this action because of recent judicial decisions and/or opinions," Kleeh wrote.

Christopher Younger of Williamson represents Messer, a deputy since 1996.

In his complaint Younger listed 54 actions that Hannah took against Messer and claimed they took place with the knowledge and acquiescence of county commissioners.

Younger wrote that Messer has been severely damaged in loss of enjoyment of life, severe emotional distress, embarrassment and degradation.

He blamed Hannah for denial of Messer's application for employment with West Virginia state police, and sought damages for that.

He requested punitive damages for outrageous and egregious conduct.

Stanley set a scheduling conference Sept. 3.

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