LEE COUNTY: Commissioners, others answer town hall lawsuit with request for dismissal

Apr. 17, 2014 @ 01:08 PM

Defendants in a lawsuit over an allegedly illegal town hall meeting, including the Lee County Board of Commissioners, have asked that the suit be dismissed.

A hearing to discuss the motions to dismiss the lawsuit is tentatively scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday at the Superior Civil Session of the Lee County Superior Court or “as soon thereafter as the court can hear it.”

Jay Calendine, who was recently named the Lee County Democratic Party Second Vice Chairman, filed the lawsuit on April 4, which called the March 7 Lee County town hall meeting illegal because interested attendees were required to give their names at the Gated Carolina Trace Properties gate.

Calendine and other members of the public, including Commissioner Amy Dalrymple, were turned away because they refused to disclose their names to enter the meeting, which was held at the Carolina Trace Country Club. Both Calendine and Dalrymple were allowed into the meeting after providing their names during a second attempt.

The lawsuit also names Lee County Commissioners Charlie Parks, Kirk Smith and Andre Knecht, who attended the meeting, and the Lee County government as defendants.

“We are looking forward to having the case dismissed,” said Lee County Attorney Neil Yarborough.

The lawsuit should be dismissed, according to the county's motions filed Friday, because the plaintiff “lacks sufficient standing to prosecute,” and the plaintiff has failed to provide "sufficient material facts" to support his claim. It also mentions “failure to join a necessary party" — referring to the exclusion of Dalrymple as a defendant. 

Doster, Post, Silverman, Foushee & Post attorney Kevin Foushee, who is representing Calendine, couldn't be reached for comment, but Calendine said Tuesday that Dalrymple was not included in his lawsuit because she was turned away from the meeting and “her only contribution to the meeting was to call it illegal.”

“This kind of challenge is not at all unexpected,” Calendine said. “I wouldn't have filed the suit if I didn't believe what we alleged, and we believe there was a violation of law, and we are asking the court to correct that.”

The county seeks five things from the court in its answer to the lawsuit, which was filed Monday:

  • That the complaint be dismissed.
  • That Calendine does not receive relief from the defendants.
  • That Calendine “have and recover nothing” from the defendants.
  • That Calendine be taxed with the attorney’s fees and costs of the action.
  • For other and further relief that the court deems appropriate.

Also in the county's answer to the lawsuit, it denies Calendine’s assertion that “Chairman (Charlie) Parks did not follow the county attorney's legal advice” concerning holding the meeting at Trace.

The defendants also submitted a motion to strike five portions — including Calendine’s assertion that he “felt that he was attending a local Republican rally rather than a town hall meeting” —  of Calendine’s suit on Friday because the language “is irrelevant, immaterial and impertinent.”