Florida Possum Festival Lawsuit Dismissed

Hey, stop laughing, this is serious business. The infamous Possum Festival Lawsuit of 2017 has been dismissed. The federal suit was brought against Wausau Fire Chief Samuel Rudd and the Town of Wausau by former County Commissioner Lynn Gothard over a political advertisement that she wanted published in a pamphlet the fire department was preparing for the 2016 Wausau Possum Festival.

At the time, Gothard was running for re-election to the Washington County Commission and sought to place an ad in the pamphlet that the fire department produced as a fundraiser. Gothard apparently missed the deadline for the ad. She claims that when she asked why the ad was not included, she was told Chief Rudd refused to include it. That prompted her to file suit in US District Court for the Northern District of Florida in December, 2017.

The suit claims that Chief Rudd and the town violated Gothard’s First Amendment rights by refusing her request for an ad. Gothard voluntarily dismissed the suit last week with prejudice, meaning she cannot refile the suit at a later date. Under the term of the dismissal, both sides have agreed to assume their own legal costs.

Here is a copy of the dismissal: Possum Festival Suit GOTHARD v WAUSAU DISMISSAL

Here is a copy of the original complaint Possum Festival Suit GOTHARD v WAUSAU

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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