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Lawsuit against coroner dismissed

December 1, 2012
Morning Journal News

LISBON - In a ruling filed Thursday, Columbiana County Common Pleas Court Judge C. Ashley Pike dismissed a civil lawsuit filed against County Coroner Dr. William A. Graham by a former employee.

Brian K. Fullum had contended violations of the Ohio Minimum Fair Wage Standards Act, retaliation, a hostile work environment, retaliatory constructive discharge and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

A jury trial had been scheduled for Dec. 18, but the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment.

Pike ruled Graham is an elected official, not a political subdivision. The complaint was filed against the coroner both professionally and personally, not the coroner's office. Therefore, Pike wrote Graham is presumptively entitled to protection under statutory immunity.

"There is no allegation by the plaintiff that Dr. Graham ever acted maliciously, in bad faith, or in a wanton or reckless manner or outside the scope of his official duties and responsibilities, all of which are exceptions to immunity doctorine," Pike wrote.

Fullum, who worked as a coroner's investigator, claimed he was forced to resign because Graham created a hostile work environment after Fullum raised concerns about the number of hours he was required to work compared to his compensation. The lawsuit was filed in November of 2011.

A second lawsuit filed by Susan Bennett in May is still pending involving the former coroner's office secretary's claims of illegal retaliation by Graham after she brought up allegations of professional misconduct by him. An investigation by the Bureau of Criminal Investigation into the misconduct allegations cleared Graham of wrong doing.



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