The City of Port St. Joe and Mayor Mel Magidson are among the defendants in federal civil rights lawsuit filed last week by the estranged wife of a Port St. Joe businessman.
Also named as defendants in the suit, filed March 7 in U.S. District Court in Panama City by an attorney representing Lynne Carr, are two Port St. Joe police officers and Carr’s estranged husband, Billy Carr, Jr.
In the lawsuit, Lynne Carr requests a trial by jury and unspecified damages.
The allegations center on an incident in December 2011 while the Carrs were separated and headed toward a divorce case that remains ongoing.
At the time, the Carrs had been operating several businesses on Reid Avenue, including a florist, wedding planner and boutique.
According to the filing, Lynne Carr was the manager of the businesses which were owned by her husband.
The lawsuit notes that while all three businesses may be “marital property” she argues she was the sole member of the limited liability companies owning the wedding planner and boutique.
On Dec. 9, the lawsuit alleges, Lynne Carr arrived at work to find Port St. Joe police officers David Garner and Jake Richards present along with her husband. The two officers, the lawsuit details, were in uniform and gave no indication they were off-duty, according to the complaint.
Lynne Carr alleged that her husband stood without speaking beyond a greeting, showing a gun holstered at his side.
She was terminated from the businesses and was ordered to turn over all items related to the business, including her personal vehicle.
The lawsuit contends that Lynne Carr advised both officers the car was subject to the divorce proceedings and was back at her Mexico Beach residence.
She was threatened with arrest if she did not immediately retrieve and return the vehicle, the complaint details.
Garner, Lynne Carr alleged, called her while she was cleaning out the vehicle in Mexico Beach to say if she did not hurry he would report the vehicle stolen.
When she returned with the vehicle, Richards approached with a K-9 dog. He stated that searches had already been performed at the businesses, with Billy Carr’s consent, and instructed Lynne Carr to remain still while leading the sniffing dog around her.
When Lynne Carr called the Port St. Joe Police Department to receive reports of the incident, she was told by Police Chief David Barnes that Garner and Richards were “off duty”, their off-duty services had been contracted and Barnes responded with a “yes” when Lynne Carr asked if their actions were legal, the complaint continues.
Lynne Carr is suing the City of Port St. Joe as well as Magidson, who is Billy Carr’s attorney, Garner and Richards individually for violation of her Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search or seizure of her self and property, alleging the searches lacked probable cause and the three were operating under the “color” of official authority, alleging Garner and Richards were following instructions from Magidson.
Additionally, Lynne Carr is suing the city for abuse of power, and also is individually suing Garner, Richards and Magidson, of the same charge, abuse of power.
In addition, Lynne Carr is suing her husband for abuse of process.
Magidson said Tuesday while on vacation that he had been served with papers on Monday afternoon, was leaving early Tuesday morning and had not read the complaint and could not respond to the allegations.