- Written by Steve Frank
Officials of the five counties that formerly were the core of the New River Behavioral Healthcare service area, along with some specific county and New River board members, sued by a group of former employees, are breathing a bit easier with an order issued in the lawsuit in dismissing 9 of the 12 elements of the suit. The former employees, seeking compensation for vacation, sick pay, and other reimbursement, first took their case to Federal Court in Statesville, but when that was dismissed March a year ago, the case was filed in Alexander Superior Civil Court, and was heard on February 17th. The ruling, issued by Judge Jeff Hunt, found that the complaint was Neither simple, concise, or direct, citing state law, and called in Needlessly convoluted, confused, and confusing. The points in answering the suit went on to call the verbiage redundant, irrelevant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous, or various combinations thereof, again citing state law. And while the 60-page complaint was confusing, the Claims apparently asserted in Plaintiffs Complaint are neither unusually technical nor complicated, but says The Court does not recognize that these actions are of the utmost importance to the parties in this action. So at the end of the 8-page ruling, nibne of the claims are dismissed with prejudice, with three of their original issues still to be considered by the court. Watauga Commission Chairman Nathan Miller, who served on the board of New River Behavioral Healthcare as the board dissolved the agency, said the claim for punitive damage was dismissed, and said Im extremely pleased that the court took a very diligent and hard-looking approach toward the complaint and toward the defendants motion to dismiss. I personally, as I was named in the lawsuit, Im extremely happy with the outcome. And he said, As chairman of the Watauga County Commissioners, the county is pleased the majority of their liability has now been dismissed by the court, and the board of New River is certainly pleased because it vindicates a lot of the wind-up operations that we were forced to do because of the previous boards running the company into the ground. Miller said it may be some timeat least monthsbefore the remaining points are addressed in court, but that now those three points can be more clearly defined by the plaintiffs.