Court tosses out ex-clerk's lawsuit

n The case concerning the firing of Saltillo’s former employee, Dorothy A. Bentley, had been set for trial in 2010.
By Patsy R. Brumfield
Daily Journal
SALTILLO – Former city clerk Dorothy A. Bentley cannot sue Saltillo’s officials again over claims that she was fired without due process.
Tuesday, U.S. District Judge W. Allen Pepper dismissed Bentley’s 2007 civil lawsuit against Saltillo.
Pepper said that when Bentley was fired April 12, 2007, she was invited to discuss her employment during an executive session of the Board of Aldermen. She also was allowed to speak to the public at the meeting.
Two months later, Bentley sued the board and mayor, alleging they violated her right to due process. Ten months later, she filed another lawsuit against Saltillo, saying the officials unlawfully retaliated against her for exercising her free-speech rights in 2007 and defamed her with information from a public audit.
Saltillo’s attorney, Mark Halbert of Tupelo, then asked the court to decide the issue before a trial. He said she had failed to show that published reports about her firing were false or “sufficiently stigmatizing.”
Although Bentley discussed the reasons for her firing, “she does not deny any of them,” Pepper wrote.
The judge also notes Bentley showed no evidence she was denied a name-clearing hearing about published allegations, which came from a city audit, a public record.
Each side will bear its own costs, Pepper added in his final judgment.
The case was set to go before a jury in March 2010.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.

Patsy Brumfield