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Siler case loses defendants

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By Susan Sharp

Two men who once held county positions and were named as defendants in a federal lawsuit have been dismissed from those proceedings.

Last Thursday, U.S. District Judge R. Allan Edgar released former Sheriff Ron McClellan and former Chief Deputy Charlie Scott from the multi million-dollar lawsuit filed by Lester and Jenny Siler.

In his order, Edgar said the federal lawsuit does not allege either man actively, in a professional or individual capacity, violated the civil rights of the couple in July 2004. Because of this, McClellan and Scott were dismissed from the pending  federal action.

The Silers have a parallel case, making relatively the same allegations against the same defendants, filed in this matter in circuit court.

In the federal case, former deputies David Webber, Josh Monday, Sammy Franklin, Shayne Green and Will Carroll are still embroiled in the courts with the Silers in their individual capacities.

In a prior federal court order, all state claims made against the one-time lawmen were dismissed leaving only the civil rights claims to be argued in front of Edgar.

Now, those claims remain with the former deputies left as the only individuals named in the suit.

Throughout his order, Edgar mentions numerous delays in the case, largely brought on by the plaintiffs.

Citing changes in counsel, requests to extend deadlines and numerous objections raised by the Silers and their attorneys, Herb Moncier and Kristi Anderson, Edgar said they were the ones who had repeatedly impeded the trial.

The case has been docketed for trial on at least two occasions.

However, because of requests from the Silers and their attorneys, the case was postponed.

The Siler’s legal team was informed in the order that on occasion they had attempted to circumvent the court’s orders by continuing to gather facts after the deadline had passed, according to federal court records.

In the initial filing Campbell County, as a governmental entity, was also named in the combined nearly $40 million lawsuits.

   Last week, Edgar took a different view on the county’s liability in the matter. He said the Silers and their legal counsel, “have presented little or no probative, admissible evidence” that would support their claims against the county.

They can’t proceed to trial with the county as a defendant “on the basis of mere allegations,” the judge said.

This leaves only the five one time deputies in the suit. Edgar also said the case would go forward on an individual basis solely for the five men.

The claim will not proceed against them in their former professional capacities.

The only claim left to proceed on is the allegation the men violated the civil rights of the Silers.

A final scheduling order issued Friday by Edgar says the trial will begin Jan. 13, 2010 in Chattanooga.

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