The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

July 30, 2013

Two former Rainelle police officers file lawsuits charging wrongful termination

RAINELLE — Two former Rainelle police officers have filed separate lawsuits against the town claiming they were wrongfully terminated from their jobs.

In a suit filed in Greenbrier Circuit Court June 28, Michael Harper claims he was advised by Police Chief J.P. Stevens Nov. 3, 2011, that Harper’s employment was terminated “due to his previously leaving early due to a medical condition.”

Harper maintains the firing was “arbitrary, capricious, discriminating and politically motivated” — the same language used in the other wrongful termination lawsuit, filed July 11 by Thomas Lowe.

Both men claim violations of West Virginia law in that they were not afforded notice and the opportunity to be heard prior to adverse action being taken, and both say they suffered damage to their reputations and economic damages.

In addition, Harper asserts that the town failed to pay the wages due him within the 72 hours of his dismissal that is required by law.

Lowe states he was told by town officials during an employee meeting July 12, 2011, that his employment was being terminated because he “was the lowest on the totem pole, so to speak, and in order (for the town) to employ a new officer,” he had to go.

Lowe says the reason cited at the meeting “was merely pretextual and not the true reason for his termination.”

Rainelle’s response to Harper’s lawsuit was filed Thursday by Jason A. Winnell of the Charleston law firm Schuda and Associates PLLC.

The response denies the allegations set forth in the suit and asserts that, as a Class IV town, Rainelle is not subject to civil service notice and hearing requirements.

Winnell further claims that Harper was “terminated for multiple violations of department policies,” not “some purported medical condition.”

No response has yet been offered to Lowe’s suit, which was filed two weeks later than Harper’s. Both lawsuits were filed by Lewisburg attorney E. Lavoyd Morgan Jr.

Contacted by telephone Monday, Rainelle Mayor Andrea Pendleton told The Register-Herald that the town’s insurance carrier is handling the defense against both suits.

She acknowledged she is aware of both lawsuits but declined to comment.

No hearings have yet been scheduled in either matter.

— E-mail:

Text Only
Local News
  • Jury trial set in Bob Graham case

    Robert E. “Bob” Graham, the former executive director of the Wyoming County Council on Aging and All-Care Home and Community Services Inc., will be back in U.S. District Court in Bluefield this October for a trial to recover consequential damages for aggravation and inconvenience from National Union Fire Insurance Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa., the insurance company that provided him coverage when he served as director of the two agencies.

    July 25, 2014

  • Calendar — Friday, July 25, 2014

    July 25, 2014

  • Kids drama camp dips into the acting bug

    Some kids growled and grumbled. Others complained about the stories they heard. A few wore pig noses. Grandpa nearly fell asleep.

    July 25, 2014

  • Sewage treatment plant project clears another hurdle

    Ronceverte’s planned construction of a new sewage treatment plant cleared another regulatory hurdle with the expiration Wednesday of a 20-day waiting period at the state Public Service Commission.

    July 25, 2014

  • Saints arrive 1 Saints march into ‘Almost Heaven, W.Va.’

    At 3:54 p.m. Wednesday afternoon the New Orleans Saints’ chartered flight touched the ground at the Greenbrier Valley Airport, and Greenbrier County officially became “Who Dat?” Country. INCLUDES TOUT VIDEO.

    July 24, 2014 3 Photos

  • Broadband panel eyes access to rural areas

    The West Virginia Broadband Deployment Council met far outside its typical Charleston venue Wednesday to hear issues about Internet speeds in some of the state’s most rural regions.

    July 24, 2014

  • Lewisburg official says fuel spill contained, drinking water safe

    Lewisburg’s public works director is confident that a Tuesday afternoon fuel spill 60 miles upriver from the city water system’s intake has been contained and the water is safe to drink.

    July 24, 2014

  • Lewisburg keeping eye on gas spill

    Mayor John Manchester said Tuesday night it was in the city’s best interest that officials proceed with caution to reports of a diesel spill farther up the Greenbrier River because “we wouldn’t want to run into an Elk River challenge here."

    July 24, 2014

  • NCCC team brings its skills to work in Hinton

    William Custus, 20, of Washington, and Sabree Koonce, 21, of Leavenworth, Kan., have spent the summer making West Virginia beautiful.

    July 24, 2014

  • Cyclist injured in accident

    A cyclist was injured on a trail near the Gauley River when she fell from her bike to avoid a tree branch.

    July 24, 2014