Judge rules in favor of both plaintiffs, defendants

Judge rules in favor of both plaintiffs, defendants

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Both sides are claiming victory after a judge rules on the City of Columbus' motion to dismiss a claim filed by Muscogee County Marshal Greg Countryman and Municipal Court Clerk Vivian Bishop.

In the ruling released Wednesday, Superior Court Judge Hilton Fuller of DeKalb County said the mayor, city council, city attorney and city manager were all covered under "sovereign immunity" and could not be sued in their official capacities.

Countryman and Bishop are among four elected officials, including Muscogee County Sheriff John Darr and Clerk of Superior Court Linda Pierce, who filed suit against the mayor and city leaders over their department's budgets.

Fuller ruled that Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and several city leaders cannot be sued in their official capacities. However, Judge Fuller preserved the plaintiff's other claims that they can sue within their individual capacities, which means the case will go to trial, according to the plaintiffs.

"The order follows the other rulings in the Darr and Pierce cases. Like those cases, the majority of the claims have either been voluntarily or dismissed by the court. The remaining claims will be appealed as in the other two cases," said Tomlinson.

The mayor went on to say: "We believe the few remaining claims will be reversed on appeal.  Importantly, the city's counter-claim against the marshal and clerk remains and we are actively pursuing that now to recovery the citizens' money."

Countryman through his attorney said, "The mayor continues to spread the fiction that the Plaintiffs are demanding they be given everything they ask for.  She knows that this is false and spreading this falsehood over and over does not make it true no matter how much she wants it to be. We want the Mayor to do what the charter requires and let Council make that decision, with our input."

Countryman added: "We are pleased that the Judge preserved all of our other claims and look forward to conducting robust discovery and a successful outcome at trial."

Click here to view the court documents.

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