BOCC, commissioners sued in federal court

Published: Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 10:03 AM.

The Gulf County Board of Commissioners, three current and former commissioners and a Port St. Joe resident are named as defendants in a federal civil rights lawsuit filed last week.

The suit, filed by political action committee Citizens Improving Gulf County and its president Jim Garth, alleges that the BOCC, current Commissioners Warren Yeager and Carmen McLemore and former commissioner Bill Williams abused their power and illegally retaliated against the PAC and Garth for exercising protected First Amendment rights.

The lawsuit also names Lois McElroy, a.k.a Christine or Christy McElroy, alleging she coordinated with the BOCC in the attacks against Citizens Improving Gulf County and Garth.

The suit further levels a count of defamation toward McElroy.

The suit asks for a jury trial and for unspecified “punitive and compensatory” damages.

The lawsuit was filed by Tallahassee attorney Marie Mattox.

The allegations center on three 2012 BOCC meetings during which Citizens Improving Gulf County, Garth and other members were, according to the complaint, “attacked” and “humiliated” for exercising their rights to free speech and questioning government.

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