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Federal judge dismisses lawsuit

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit in which former Richland County State's Attorney Earle "Bud" Myers claimed the county retaliated against him.

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit in which former Richland County State's Attorney Earle "Bud" Myers claimed the county retaliated against him.

Myers sued Richland County and nine current and former county commissioners in November 2002, accusing them of sabotaging his career and his bid for re-election.

U.S. District Judge Rodney Webb issued a 38-page summary and order dismissing the case Thursday.

In the suit, Myers says the county and some of its officials retaliated against him for testimony he gave under oath in an earlier discrimination lawsuit against the county.

Jewel Jones-Van Tassel was a former county employee who filed a lawsuit against the county, claiming officials didn't promote her to the emergency director's job because of her gender. The county settled the suit for $1.2 million.

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Myers claimed some county commissioners retaliated by spreading rumors about him and actively recruiting Warren Stokes to run against him in the 2002 election.

Stokes won the election, and Myers filed a federal lawsuit a week later.

Since then, Myers has become a Cass County assistant states attorney, and five defendants were dropped from his lawsuit.

Only the county and former commissioners Dave Paulson and Ray Ward remained defendants until Thursday's court ruling.

Webb ruled that Myers failed to show the county had any responsibility.

The county is not liable for the actions of its commissioners unless they take action "collectively and as a board," Webb said.

The judge ruled that Myers failed to show the commissioners' actions cost him his re-election.

Webb also found that the commissioners' actions didn't rise to the level of defamation or intentional infliction of emotional distress.

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"My clients and myself are very pleased," said Ron Fischer, an attorney for the county. "We were confident from day one that there was no merit to this lawsuit."

Myers' attorney, Patricia Monson of Fargo, said Webb's ruling contains "a couple issues for appeal."

She said she hadn't discussed the judge's ruling with Myers, who will decide whether to appeal.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Zent at (701) 241-5526

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