Cabell Commission Sued for Retaliatory Discharge, Civil Rights Violations

Edited from Multiple Sources

A former Cabell County employee has sued the County Commission, Phyllis Smith (County Clerk) and Beth Thompson (County Administrator) for retaliatory discharge and first amendment civil rights violations. The allegations stem from an investigation by the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney (OPA) which began in September 2017.

Jason Nichols had been employed until Jan. 8, 2018 as a deputy clerk, but he was fired for revealing budget data to the OPA, the federal complaint states.

Nichols reported unauthorized spending concerns to the OPA. The prosecutor , then, filed a Freedom of Information Act request for specific data. 

Among the allegations made by Nichols were:

a) Taxpayers pay for insurance on $30 million dollar of "fixed assets," but no audit has been completed on asset value or whether they exist;

b) The self-insured county medical plan finished the year with a surplus, but, the county administrator applied the surplus to pay jail costs, then, told employees their premiums would rise due to medical plan usage;

c) The county planned to have a third party outside of WV administer the payroll, which Nichols claims is illegal under WV law. 

Hours before Smith planned to turnover FOIA requested documents to the prosecutor's office, Thompson told him he "was no longer needed" and Smith added "they did not have to give a reason" for termination. 

Maria Hughes and Mark Goldner of Charleston based  Hughes & Goldner are representing Nichols and signed the federal court complaint. 

The full complaint can be downloaded as a PDF below. 

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