Houston & Peach

Judge gives mixed ruling in Centerville lawsuit

Centerville City Attorney Rebecca Tydings, left, and Mayor John Harley at Tuesday's City Council meeting.
Centerville City Attorney Rebecca Tydings, left, and Mayor John Harley at Tuesday's City Council meeting. wcrenshaw@macon.com

A judge dismissed some of the claims of Centerville’s former police chief in a lawsuit against the city, but left others standing.

The judgment came after a recent hearing on the city’s motion for summary judgment in Sidney Andrews’ lawsuit against the city. Andrews resigned as police chief in 2015, and Mayor John Harley told reporters that Andrews resigned because of health reasons, including back problems and abdominal surgeries.

Andrews then sued the city and Harley both in his official capacity and as an individual, claiming he had violated Andrews’ right to privacy. The suit claimed invasion of privacy for “public disclosure of embarrassing private facts,” breach of contract and defamation.

The judgment by Superior Court Judge Katherine Lumsden filed in Superior Court on Monday grants summary judgment in favor of Harley on all claims against him as an individual.

It also grants summary judgment in favor of the city and in favor of Harley in his official capacity on contentions that Harley violated provisions of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family Medical Leave Act. The ruling said Andrews voluntarily shared the information with others who did not have a need to know, which made the information not protected by the Family Medical Leave Act.

Lumsden ruled in favor of the defendants on violation of privacy under federal law.

The ruling denied summary judgment on Andrews’ state-law claims of defamation, breach of contract and violation of privacy against the city, but dismissed those claims against Harley, stating that he had official immunity. Those claims will continue in court.

Andrews has the right to appeal the decisions in favor the city.

City Attorney Rebecca Tydings called the ruling is a victory for the city, even though it left some claims in place. She said she is confident in the city’s case against the remaining claims.

Wayne Crenshaw: 478-256-9725, @WayneCrenshaw1

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