The former superintendent of Pleasant View Rest Home in Pulaski County is suing the commissioners, auditor and county attorney for defamation, slander, libel and invasion of privacy. Sandra Hurd’s lawsuit stems from the circumstances that led to her suspension with pay and subsequent termination last August. Her lawsuit claims she found a possible clerical error in reports filed with a state agency last July, notified them and asked how to fix it. Hurd contends the commissioners convened an executive session July 29th and accused her of committing Medicaid fraud. She filed the necessary paperwork the following day to correct the error, according to the suit, and the county was notified in writing on Aug. 22 that no fraud was committed. The commissioners fired Hurd during an emergency public meeting on Aug. 27th.
“She can be fired for screwing up these reports, which she admits she did, and she resulted in the county paying a fine,” county attorney Kevin Tankersley tells WKVI news. “These are all hard facts that nobody can dispute. The wrongful discharge has got no chance of winning, no chance. The defamation is equally bad, because it doesn’t say anything we said.” Tankersley adds an administrative law judge ruled that Hurd was fired for good cause and denied her application for unemployment. She filed a notice of tort claim against the commissioners last November. Tankersley notes that is just a notice that there may be grounds for a lawsuit and does not require the same degree of detail an actual lawsuit does. He says her allegations of defamation, slander and libel are unsubstantiated in her latest filing.
“It’s unfortunate that the county is going to have to expend taxpayer time, energy and resources to defend such a frivolous claim. Unfortunately in our legal system there isn’t a loser pays policy. I’m not necessarily in favor of a loser pays policy, but when you get sued you have to defend it and you ultimately have to pay for it. Typically the plaintiff doesn’t have to refund you if they lose. It’s a rare circumstance where she would have to pay us back for defending the claim, but this one borders on that type of case.” Tankersley notes the county has insurance to cover elected officials in the event that they are sued. He says an attorney appointed by their insurance company will litigate the case and will likely seek reimbursement for the county’s costs. Hurd’s lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, court costs and attorney fees.
Click here to read a copy of her latest filing: Sandra Hurd v. Pulaski County Board of Commissioners