The lawsuit brought against the city by the former planning and codes director should be dismissed, so says the city.

The city of Tullahoma has filed a response to the lawsuit brought by Lee Lawson, who formerly served the city as the planning and codes director until he was terminated in 2020. Lawson claims the city violated his due process rights as well as civil liberty rights and is suing the city and City Administrator Jennifer Moody for $2.5 million.

Lawson claims the city and Moody violated his due process rights by way of Moody “unilaterally” firing him as planning and codes director without giving him proper notice. He attempted to appeal Moody’s decision to then-Mayor Lane Curlee, who denied the appeal. Lawson further claims he was denied the opportunity to have a “name-clearing hearing” to have comments made about him “publicly erased, amended or retracted.”

In its answer, the city states Lawson is not entitled to any of the relief he asked for, including the $2.5 million in damages. Further, the city states Lawson did not give a proper reason for why he was entitled to the relief he seeks under state or federal law.

“No action or inaction of Defendants [the city and Moody] deprived Plaintiff [Lawson] of any interest or violated any right protected by the Federal Constitution, the Constitution of the State of Tennessee or any other applicable federal or state statute or law,” the city’s answer states.

Additionally, the city’s answer lists, Moody is protected from litigation personally through good faith immunity, as she was acting in her official capacity when Lawson was terminated, and anyone in her position would have come to the same conclusion as she did in this instance.

“Ms. Moody pleads and relies upon the defense of qualified immunity or good-faith immunity under federal and state law, such that it should be clear that any reasonable official considering the totality of the circumstances upon which this action is based would have acted as she did under the circumstances,” the answer reads.

The city also argues that “no custom, policy, or practice of the City existed which caused or contributed to any alleged violation of Plaintiff’s constitutional rights.”

The city further argues that, since Lawson was appointed to his position as director of planning and codes by the previous city administrator, he cannot then complain that he was fired by the current city administrator.

The city argues that Lawson is not entitled to any of the relief he seeks from the court, asking the court to dismiss the suit and award the city and Moody costs and attorney’s fees pursuant to state and federal law. The city and Moody are represented by Mark. McGrady in this case.

Managing Editor

Erin McCullough has won awards for her news reporting, community lifestyles and education reporting in the three years she's been a journalist. She is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and currently lives in Tullahoma with her cat, Luna.

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