A federal lawsuit brought by a Corbin man who claimed he was severely beaten by a Whitley County Sheriff’s Deputy during a disagreement over a firearm in 2007 should be thrown out, one attorney argues, because it doesn’t meet legal standards necessary to sue public officials for misconduct.
Jane Winkler Dyche, who is defending Whitley County, its Sheriff’s Department and Whitley County Sheriff Lawrence Hodge, has filed a motion for summary judgment in U.S. District Court in London that intends to gut a lawsuit filed by Dalton Christopher Brewer in June 2008. The lawsuit names as defendants Whitley County, it’s Sheriff’s Department and Sheriff Lawrence Hodge personally, along with 47-year-old Tony Ramey – a former Corbin police officer he claims is a "current or former" deputy.
According to the original lawsuit, Brewer, a resident of Gilliam Street in Corbin, "lawfully purchased" a firearm (a Glock Model 27 Pistol) from Tony Ramey’s son, 29-year-old Perry Ramey, on May 28, 2007 for $300. Perry and his father Tony came to Brewer’s residence on June 13 and demanded return of the firearm. Brewer claims he offered to return it in exchange for a refund of his purchase price, but the deal went sour.
The Ramey’s allegedly forced their way into Brewer’s home and beat him and choked him. Attorneys for Brewer say their client was hit with the butt of a pistol in the face, on the head, in the ribs, on his back and sides. He was also kicked and choked. Brewer said Tony Ramey also threatened to kill him.
The complaint also alleges that Tony Ramey represented himself as a law enforcement officer and told Brewer he would take him to jail during the altercation.
In her motion, filed Jan. 27, Dyche makes numerous arguments as to why the case should be thrown out, including that public officials are immune to such actions unless it can be proved policies they put in place lead to civil rights abuses.
"There is no evidence in the record of any continued pattern of conduct or of any policies, procedures, customs or practices systematically applied which in any way adversely affected Plaintiff. The proof simply is not there."
Central to the case is a dispute over whether Tony Ramey was a deputy for the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department. Hodge has steadfastly maintained he wasn’t and had never met Ramey in his life.
But in the motion, Dyche admits that Hodge actually agreed to allow Ramey to serve as a "volunteer deputy." He was administered an oath of office by Whitley District Judge Cathy Prewitt, but never executed a required bond for "faithful performance," which Dyche said is required by Hodge for both certified and volunteer deputies.
Volunteer deputies have no arrest powers in Kentucky and can only act under the supervision of a certified police officer. They do not wear uniforms, carry guns and are not issued vehicles.
In a pre-trial deposition, Hodge said his deputies do not respond to calls inside the city limits of Corbin. Dyche argues Ramey acted on his own in the case and is personally liable for his actions.
"Ramey was on a purely personal mission, attempting to recover a firearm his son had stolen from him and sold to Plaintiff."
Brewer won a default judgment in Dec. 2008 against Tony Ramey who never responded to the lawsuit.
U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove is reviewing the latest motion but has yet to rule.
A trial in the case is scheduled for November