Beaufort News

County responds to lawsuit filed by former employee

Beaufort County says a former employee suing for wrongful termination complained incessantly and failed to follow the county's grievance policy for layoffs.

Former survey party leader Doug Trogdon, one of eight people dismissed from the county's engineering department last year, is suing for unspecified damages and has requested a jury trial. The county made its formal response April 19 to Trodgon's lawsuit, filed March 18.

A schedule for the case is being set, but lawyers can still ask for modifications, and a possible trial is still months away.

"The only thing I can say for certain is if this case goes to trial, it wouldn't occur until the end of 2011, if not the beginning of 2012," said Trogdon's attorney, Christopher Geier.

Trogdon alleges that his bosses threatened his job after he complained about wasteful spending, employees who were conducting personal matters on county time and a coworker's incompetence.

The county's response acknowledges several complaints made by Trogdon. It also states Trogdon was told "incessant complaining was detrimental to the department," and "constantly complaining about his coworkers" was unprofessional.

Deputy county administrator Bryan Hill and engineering and infrastructure director Rob McFee are named as defendants in the suit and accused of negligence, civil conspiracy and infliction of emotional distress.

In its answer, the county states Trogdon's supervisors acted "in good faith with probable cause, all while acting within the scope of official duty."

In addition, the county argues that Trogdon failed to take full advantage of administrative remedies, in part because he did not follow county policy in filing a grievance about his layoff.

The case has been moved from the 14th Circuit Court to U.S. District Court at the request of the county's lawyers, because Trogdon alleges violation of his federal First Amendment rights, according to court records.

Derwood L. Aydlette III, one of the county's attorneys, said the move will probably not affect the outcome of the case.