PutnamLIVE.com publisher sues county health department

By Kyla Asbury | Sep 18, 2013

CHARLESTON - The publisher of PutnamLIVE.com is suing the Putnam County Health Department, alleging it defamed him and had him unlawfully arrested.

Lolita Kirk was also named as a defendant in the suit.

Mark Vance Halburn is the publisher of the news website PutnamLIVE.com and a journalist whose principal place of business is in Dunbar, according to a complaint filed Aug. 23 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Halburn claims on March 18, he filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Putnam County Health Department's former administrator Joel M. McKinney for the purpose of reviewing financial documents dating back to January 2010.

McKinney responded with the request that Halburn make an appointment to review the records and Halburn made an appointment for April 2, according to the suit.

Halburn claims his appointment was confirmed on the morning of April 2. However, when he appeared at the office, he was arrested for trespassing and McKinney refused to allow him his legal opportunity to review and copy financial documents, the suit says.

PCHD subsequently refused to allow Halburn to review the requested financial documents and has made no effort to furnish the documents, according to the suit.

Halburn claims by arresting him and concocting a story about him allegedly interfering with a government agency, PCHD violated his civil rights, including malicious prosecution, character assassination, defamation of character, slander, libel, false imprisonment, interfering with his business as a journalist and intentional affliction of emotional distress.

Halburn is seeking for the court to declare that the defendants' refusal to disclose the records he requested is unlawful; grant injunctive relief, enjoining the defendants from fully and properly improperly withheld; grant a permanent injunction requiring the defendants to undergo training for better understanding of West Virginia Code; and $10 billion in punitive damages and $2,000 for attorney fees incurred to fight the criminal charges. He is representing himself.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Charles E. King.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 13-C-1611

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