Alabama Chiefs Accuse Local Officials of Conspiracy

Two Alabama chief officers have filed suit against eight current and former local officials alleging they engaged in a conspiracy to fire the chiefs. Northport Fire Chief Bart Marshall and Battalion Chief Richard Brown filed suit this week naming Councilman Robby Davis, Mayor Donna Aaron, former councilman Jody Jobson, Fire Captain Jerry Pruitt, former fire sergeant Cory Patterson, and three former fire chiefs, Ronald Pool, Bruce Wade and Darryl Patterson as defendants.

The suit was filed in Alabama’s 6th Judicial Circuit Court in Tuscaloosa. A copy of the complaint is not available, but according to 953thebear.com and 105theblock.com, the 22-page suit “accuses the defendants of breach of fiduciary duty, harassment and hostile work environment, defamation, invasion of privacy, civil conspiracy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and abuse of process and malicious prosecution.”

According to the article, the origins of the conspiracy began in 2016 when Chief Brown issued a burning permit to a developer over the objection of Davis, who lived nearby. Davis, who was not an elected official at the time, then demanded Chief Marshall not allow the permit. When Chief Marshall refused, Davis threatened to run for elected office so he could fire both chiefs.

Davis was elected to the council late that year, and began a campaign with the other defendants to file “’frivolous, baseless and unfounded complaints’” against them, stalked and spied on them, and participated in ‘wrongful and tortuous acts designed to harass, annoy, intimidate, defame and cause as much injury and damage’ as possible.” The complaint further alleges that the defendants created a private email list referred to as “CODE BLACK” and “used their email accounts to plot and plan various nefarious activities designed to carry out their plans to destroy the reputations and careers” of Chief Marshall and Chief Brown.

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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