Judge denies motion to dismiss PAC lawsuit

Published: Thursday, July 11, 2013 at 10:11 AM.

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 allegations center on three 2012 BOCC meetings – spanning April 2012 to October 2012 - 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.

The lawsuit alleges the BOCC “choreographed” McElroy’s appearance and comments at each meeting, and “were motivated to retaliate for Garth’s exercise, on his own behalf and on behalf of the PAC, of First Amendment rights.”

The lawsuit details that in a matter unrelated to the BOCC meetings, the State Attorney began an investigation based on a complaint by Yeager. The lawsuit alleges the investigation was “initiated and conducted” in retaliation for Garth’s and the PAC’s legal and protected statements.

The final meeting noted in the lawsuit included comments centered in part on the State Attorney’s investigation, which at the time of the meeting had been closed with no charges filed.

It would ultimately be closed again with no charges filed – the most significant difference in the two documents closing case being a reference to a 40-year-old alleged felony conviction of Garth, the evidence of which has never been made public.



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