Catching up with the courthouse
By By Suzanne Monk / managing editor
March 25, 2004
Every few months, I review old and new civil lawsuits in Lauderdale County Circuit Court. I've been in the midst of a file review for a couple of weeks now, and reporting on what I found.
Keep in mind that a lawsuit represents only one side in a legal dispute. Everyone has a different version of events and the opposing sides can't compromise or accommodate each other's point of view. That's why lawsuits are filed in the first place.
The initial complaint is nothing more than a starting point.
Trade secrets: Two things happened, more or less simultaneously, in the glass business at the beginning of this month. Glass 1 Inc. opened a new store on Old Highway 45 North and a competitor filed a lawsuit asking a Lauderdale County Circuit Court judge to shut it down.
The man who filed the complaint, Alan Flint, owns Mississippi Auto Glass Distributors on Tommy Webb Drive and Novus Glass Services on Front Street Extension. He is represented by Meridian attorney Greg Malta.
In his March 1 lawsuit, Flint claims that a former wholesale customer, Bill Dyess, repeatedly approached his employees in the months before Glass 1 opened. The lawsuit claims that Dyess' purpose was to obtain confidential information, like client lists and account data, and entice Flint's employees to work for Glass 1.
Three defendants are named: 1) Dyess; 2) Luke Way, a former Flint employee who went to work for Glass 1, allegedly in spite of a "no compete" contract; and 3) Glass 1 Inc.
Part of Flint's lawsuit was a request for a temporary restraining order forcing Glass 1 to stop doing business for 10 days until a hearing could be set. That hearing was subsequently set for March 5 the day of Glass 1's grand opening. Dyess' attorney asked for a new hearing day.
Malta says there was a delay in re-scheduling because both circuit judges were on leave, so opposing parties voluntarily agreed to abide by certain conditions in the meantime. Among those conditions was that Luke Way wouldn't work at Glass 1 until both sides had a chance to meet in court.
A hearing before Circuit Judge Larry Roberts has been set for April 7.
Bite marks: This is the next phase of a story originally reported in the winter of 2002, when a 4-year-old pre-schooler at West Hills Elementary School was bitten by a teacher's assistant.
The assistant, Linda Hood, resigned in October shortly after the incident and the boy's father, Randy Routt filed misdemeanor charges against her. The child's teacher, Betty Linton, resigned in December 2002.
Now, Routt has filed a lawsuit against both women, as well as Principal Sandy Davidson and the Meridian Public School District. As I've mentioned before in this column, suing governmental entities and their employees is next to impossible.
Just ask Linda Moore. She and her attorney, Bill Ready Jr., have been working on the Lauderdale County School District since 1999. And, that was no bite mark. Moore's lawsuit was filed after the former band director at Northeast High School impregnated her 15-year-old daughter during an out-of-town trip.
Comcast update: C.D. "Bubba" Newell's sentencing date has been delayed again. Newell was convicted in April 2001 in U.S. District Court of all counts against him in a conspiracy to defraud Comcast of more than $2 million. He appealed and won a new trial, only to be convicted again in December 2003. Newell was set to be sentenced on Feb. 27, but the hearing has been rescheduled until later this month.
The last time he was sentenced, after his first trial, he got 57 months and I can't think of any reason that would change. Federal sentencing guidelines don't allow for much deviation.
Court session: A new term of circuit court opens in Lauderdale County on Monday. The district attorney's office will present about 214 cases to a grand jury. About half of these involve drug charges, but the panel is also expected to consider a murder indictment and a manslaughter indictment.
A number of trials have been tentatively scheduled but, as continuances are not uncommon, and plea bargains generally resolve themselves right before a new term of court opens, it's hard to tell which ones will actually take place.