Federal K-9 Suit Postponed Until April

Knoxville, TN (2010-01-08) The federal civil right lawsuit brought against Scott County by a Deputy who claims he was not wholly compensated for his off-duty work with his canine partner has been delayed.

On Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Leon Jordan order a continuance in Deputy Kristopher Lewallen’s case against Scott County.  In his Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) complaint, Lewallen claims the Scott County Sheriff’s Department failed and refused to compensate him for the time spent training, caring for, and handling his former canine partner; hours in addition to his regular work schedule

In late December, Arthur F. Knight, the Knoxville attorney representing Scott County, filed a motion for continuance.  In his request, Knight cited lack of adequate time to properly depose witnesses in the case, along with the lack of adequate access to certain documents, the plaintiff’s amended damage calculations, and the plaintiff’s counsel’s failure to disclose her intention of using depositions in lieu of trail testimony in the case.  He also noted a burden of a heavy caseload and family medical problems for his request.

Adrienne L. Anderson, Lewallen’s Knoxville attorney argued against the continuance.  Anderson rebuffed Knight’s claims, arguing she had attempted for months to set up depositions, but the County had not responded.  In late December, she served deposition subpoenas on three County witnesses, Sheriff Anthony Lay, Chief Deputy Bobby Ellis and Finance Director Keith Jeffers.  Those depositions were taken on January 4, 2010.  In regards to the damaged, she argued Lewallen had used the wrong overtime rate on some of his calculations.  Furthermore, she added, the change resulted in a reduction in damages cited in the initial disclosures.

On Thursday, Judge Jordan sided with the County. In his ruling, Judge Jordan wrote, “The court has considered the arguments of the parties and understands the plaintiff’s desire not to delay the trial. However, the court believes that a short continuance is called for under the circumstances in this case.”

In his initial filing, Lewallen was seeking to recover not less than $24,000 in unpaid wages and overtime compensation, along with at least another $24,000 in liquidated damages.  Lewallen is also seeking to recover his attorney’s fee, along with court costs.

Both attorneys have indicated an out of court settlement is still possible.

The trial, which was set to begin on January 14, 2010, has been reset for April 8, 2010.