Former Mingo deputy drops commissioners from case

By Steve Korris | Aug 18, 2008

CHARLESTON – Five weeks after Mingo County Commission members pleaded in federal court that former sheriff's sergeant Roy Glenn Messer shouldn't have sued them over losing his job, Messer agreed.

Messer dismissed Commissioners Greg Smith, Mark Hubbard and David Baisden from his lawsuit Aug. 7, leaving Sheriff Lonnie Hannah as the only defendant.

Messer sued the commissioners and Hannah in Mingo County Circuit Court on May 12, alleging discrimination, retaliation, harassment and intimidation.

Messer's attorney, Christopher Younger of Williamson, listed 54 actions Hannah had taken against him.

Younger alleged that Hannah acted with the acquiescence of county commissioners, though the commission had taken Messer's side in his conflict with Hannah.

Messer's case suffered a setback on June 26 when the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruled Hannah properly fired him.

The county commissioners removed the Mingo County suit to U. S. district court in Charleston on June 30, and on July 3 they moved to dismiss.

"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," wrote their attorney, Carter Elkins of Huntington.

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

On Aug. 7, Messer asked District Judge John Copenhaver to drop the commissioners from the suit. Copenhaver obliged.

Hannah also has moved to dismiss, arguing that the decision of the Supreme Court of Appeals should stop Messer's suit.

Messer seeks damages for loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress, embarrassment and degradation, plus punitive damages for outrageous conduct.

Thomas Kleeh of Steptoe and Johnson in Charleston represents Hannah.

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