Georgia Court of Appeals dismisses Columbus city leaders' appeal

Georgia Court of Appeals dismisses Columbus city leaders' appeal

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A Georgia Court of Appeals has denied an appeal filed by the City of Columbus, it's mayor and other key city leaders as defendants in a lawsuit regarding two elected officials.

In June, Judge Hilton Fuller ruled the plaintiffs Muscogee County Marshal Greg Countryman and Municipal Court Clerk Vivian Creighton Bishop could not sue the defendants in their official capacity on some claims.

The move cleared the way for the plaintiffs to proceed with the remaining claims against the defendants in their individual capacity.

The city was seeking to get those claims thrown out as well, however, the Court of Appeals dismissed the request sending the case, which was filed because the plaintiffs claimed their respective departments were issued inadequate budgets for operations back to Superior Court in Columbus.

Mayor Teresa Tomlinson responded to the court's decision in this statement:

"We now will immediately move to recover the taxpayer's $15,000 used by Marshal Countryman and Clerk Bishop to pay their attorneys in violation of city purchase card agreements and in violation of Georgia law.  We also will move to dismiss these claims on the merits and as a matter of law. The Court of Appeals' dismissal is not on the merits and was a procedural order resulting from a recent change in the law."

Attorney Chris Balch, representing Greg Countryman and Vivian Creighton Bishop, also issued the following statement:

"We are pleased that the court of appeals decision that this case needs to be tried on the merits and continue to be frustrated at the city's tactic of delay which benefits no citizen of Muscogee County."

Two additional lawsuits filed by Sheriff John Darr and Municipal Court Clerk Linda Pierce are also still pending. Darr and Pierce claims are also based on a lack of operating money issued to their departments for fiscal year 2015. All four cases originated in November 2014.

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