Tribune-Courier General Manager
BENTON – Attorneys for Paula Boling, the former North Marshall Water District bookkeeper, filed a lawsuit late yesterday afternoon in Marshall County Circuit Court claiming Boling was wrongfully terminated from her job after notifying the district’s board of directors of potential wrongdoing on the part of former superintendent Brad Anderson. The suit names the North Marshall Water District as the defendant.
Wes Sullenger of the Sullenger Law Office in Paducah filed the suit. One of the firm’s primary focuses is employment law.
In the complaint obtained by The Tribune-Courier, it is alleged Boling’s rights under the Kentucky Whilstleblower Act were violated and that her 18-year employment was terminated in July because of her actions.
It also alleges her rights were violated under the Americans With Disabilties Act when a former board member entered the North Marshall Water board office both prior to and after her dismissal and asked an employee to copy her employee records which included her medical history information. By doing so, the board member, who is not named specifically in the suit, disclosed information in that medical history to others in the office.
The suit states that “the defendant engaged in the discriminatory practices... with reckless indifference to Ms. Boling’s federally protected rights.”
The lawsuit outlines several issues Boling reported to the board, the board’s attorneys and later to the Kentucky State Police who opened an investigation into Anderson’s alleged mishandling of district funds and equipment. Those include the rental of a bulldozer for Anderson’s personal use, invoices for weed killer which was shipped to Anderson’s home address and the purchase of a golf cart Boling was asked to split the payment on, allegedly to cover up that the total amount exceeded what was permitted without board approval.
Boling’s attorney, Wes Sullenger, says Boling seeks damages for lost wages through the date of a trial, emotional distress and punitive damages in the claim. No specific dollar amount for damages is specified in the suit.
Sullenger said he filed the suit on behalf of Boling because, “In this state we do not allow people who are trying to protect the public interest to be treated in this manner. All she was doing was trying to make certain public funds were properly used and her thanks for that was that she was fired.”
Sullenger went on to say the Whistleblower Protection Act is not often used in lawsuits because it applies only to government agencies or political subdivisions of those agencies. He said the North Marshall Water district qualifies as a political subdivision.
All but one of the water board members has either been terminated or resigned in recent months since the controversies began plaguing the district. Only Billy Driskell remains on the five-member board.
Anderson, who was arrested and charged with theft by unlawful taking, is awaiting trial in Marshall County Circuit Court in December.
Efforts were made to reach North Marshall Water’s interim superintendent, Bobby Gifford, regarding the lawsuit late Monday afternoon. An office employee said he had left the office sick and could not be reached.