Calhoun County Circuit Court Judge Brian Howell said in a hearing that he would have a decision by Friday of next week regarding how much money the plaintiff could possibly be entitled to in the lawsuit against RMC, former councilman David Dawson, RMC employee Tim Jones and Dawson’s former employer, Anniston Pathology Management Services. An amended version of the lawsuit, filed Tuesday, added defendants William Talbot and Thomas Garland, who are general partners of Anniston Pathology.
The lawsuit accuses Dawson of sexual harassment, while Jones, RMC, Anniston Pathology and its partners are accused of negligence in their duties.
In the Tuesday hearing, RMC attorney Thomas Davis argued that Kay Dodd, a former RMC employee who filed the lawsuit, should be entitled to no more than $100,000 if she wins her case in court. Davis argued that under state law, recovery of damages from governmental entities such as RMC is limited to $100,000 for bodily harm for one person in a single occurrence.
“If they are not bodily injuries, then what are they,” Davis said of the lawsuit allegations. “They can’t make a claim without looking at the facts.”
However Gregory Harp, Dodd’s attorney, said the compensation should not be limited since the allegations against RMC do not constitute bodily harm.
“The claims are from negligent supervision and emotional distress perpetrated by Tim Jones, who is an RMC employee,” Harp said. “Those are not bodily harm claims.”
The lawsuit states that Dodd began employment at RMC as a cytotechnologist in 2005 and routinely worked with Anniston Pathology and its employees, which included Dawson. The lawsuit alleges it was Dawson’s pattern and practice to routinely make dirty jokes containing sexual suggestions and situations, to discuss his sexual prowess and abilities in bed and to give inappropriate and sexually explicit greeting cards to the Plaintiff and other RMC employees. The lawsuit also alleges that Dawson, on many occasions beginning in 2005 and continuing through 2011, harassed Dodd and expressed his control over her and the job duties she performed.
The lawsuit alleges the harassment came to a head on Aug. 5 when Dawson came into Dodd’s office and after a short conversation, sexually harassed her physically. The lawsuit states that Dodd reported the incident to RMC. As a result of her complaint, Dawson was suspended from entering RMC for two weeks with pay, the lawsuit states.
Attorneys with Anniston Pathology filed a motion to dismiss the case in March. However, a hearing on the matter was postponed in April to give Dawson more time to find an attorney. (Court records show that Joel Laird has since filed to represent Dawson; attempts Tuesday to reach Laird were unsuccessful.)
The dismissal has since been rendered moot however, due to Harp’s Tuesday amendment to the original lawsuit, Harp said. The dismissal request argued Anniston Pathology did not exist as a limited liability company as far back as 2005, as the lawsuit stated, and so could not be sued. Harp, however, amended the legal description of the company in the updated lawsuit.
“That’s why we amended the complaint,” Harp said.
Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561.