Murray files third lawsuit against county mayor

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By Natasha Colbaugh

Former Campbell County Environmental Director Dan Murray held the position for just five months before he was terminated at the beginning of March.

It was enough time for him to file three lawsuits against the county and Mayor William Baird.

In the most recent lawsuit filed in circuit court March 16, Murray claims his termination was based on physical handicaps. This act is being accused as a violation of his human rights.

In this suit he is asking for nearly $1 million in damages.

The same allegations previously levied concerning the authority of Baird over the environmental department were again called into question when Murray was discharged from the director’s position.

“Baird could not otherwise recommend or act to discharge…because the plaintiff refused to carry out directives,” alleged the suit.

Murray also brought the suit because he believes Baird was retaliating against him for serving as a witness in Clifton “Tip” Jones’ prior complaint against the county.

Murray is requesting a judicial decision to determine if the actions taken by Baird when he fired Murray were legal.

“Murray was in a position to suffer and did suffer damages of a different character from those suffered by the citizens at large due to the allegedly unlawful acts of the defendants,” stated the suit.

Murray has further alleged the regular scheduled meeting of the county commission on Dec. 20, 2010 was in violation of the Tennessee Public Meeting Law. A resolution passed in the meeting gave Baird authority over several departments, including the environmental department, based on state statute.

The resolution was passed in violation of the sunshine act, the suit alleged.

Murray has been employed with the county since 1998. He was promoted to the environmental director’s position in October 2010. Murray isn’t eligible for retirement benefits but alleged in the suit he was otherwise entitled to benefits.

Many of the same accusations previously placed against Baird in other lawsuits were included in the recent suit. Murray said the retaliation was a culmination of his testimony in the case of Jones v Campbell County, the claim for workers compensation benefits and for making changes within the department.

Murray was suspended without pay on Feb. 12 and later terminated on March 8. These actions were based on Murray speaking out about Baird’s illegal activity, according to the suit. As a result of these actions Murray to suffered injury to his reputation, he said.

Murray is demanding the court to declare Baird’s actions to change and terminate him as illegal. He further requested to be reinstated to his position as director and if not award him front and back pay as part of compensatory damages. Other compensatory damages are requested, including attorney fees, in a sum not to exceed $450,000. Punitive damages are being sought in the amount of $500,000. Murray wants a jury trial to decide the outcome.