Huber Heights wants councilwoman’s lawsuit thrown out

Former Huber Heights City Councilwoman Janell Smith. FILE PHOTO
Former Huber Heights City Councilwoman Janell Smith. FILE PHOTO

Huber Heights has requested a lawsuit filed against the city by a former councilwoman be dismissed.

The response, filed by the city’s attorney Michael Sandner, seeks to have a lawsuit filed by Janelle Smith dismissed on the grounds that many of the facts laid out in Smith’s suit are not true.

The city of Huber Heights and council members Mark Campbell, Ed Lyons, Nancy Byrge and Don Webb are named as defendants both individually and in their capacity as a Huber Heights council member. City Manager Rob Schommer and Mayor Jeff Gore are also named. Councilman Don Webb’s wife, Antoinette Webb, and three other citizens are also named in the suit.

On Monday, Huber Heights city council approved a $100,000 increase to the city’s 2020 Budget for Legal to fund legal costs in defending the city against Smith’s lawsuit. Councilmen Richard Shaw and Glenn Otto, who are not named in the lawsuit, voted against the appropriation.

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Smith’s lawsuit alleges that current city council members and others had conspired to get her recalled and discriminated against her based on her gender and disability. Smith’s suit also alleges that those named in the lawsuit violated the Huber Heights’ city charter.

The response says this count must be dismissed because, even if every thing the suit states is true, none “give rise to a violation” of the charter.

Smith, through the suit, seeks millions of dollars in damages and a trial by jury.

“The complaint sets forth a laundry list of grievances against the city, its council, city manager, and several private citizens basically setting forth any instance for which the Plaintiff felt slighted or treated unfairly,” the response states. “It is nothing more than an attempt to use the court to embarrass the city and its leaders and to allocate the blame for her failed political endeavors upon her adversaries rather than herself.”

Smith was on city council from 2016 to 2018, when she was recalled by the voters.

Attempts to reach Smith through her attorney were unsuccessful.

EARLIER REPORT: Council member removed from office sues Huber Heights leaders

“Throughout her approximately three years as a council member, Plaintiff used the legal system and intimidation tactics against everyone that disagreed with her,” the response said.

The response alleges Smith filed criminal actions with local police, lodged complaints to the mayor and filed administrative complaints, including with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in her time as a city councilwoman. All were investigated by independent third parties and none of the complaints found wrong doing, according to the response.

The response also states that the case should be dismissed because the claims of gender and disability discrimination “are baseless” and that there is no provision in the Huber Heights city code or charter that prohibit discrimination of a council member.

“Plaintiff’s allegations concerning this cause of action only reveal hurt feelings of being excluded,” the response states.

The response states that the city of Huber Heights, Campbell, Lyons, Byrge and Webb are immune from civil liability under part of the Ohio Revised Code. The response alleges that the council members acted within the scope of their official capacity.