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Judge throws out one of Homrighausen’s lawsuits, pauses three others

| June 24, 2022
Dover Law Director Doug O'Meara argues in court while city attorney Dolores Garcia, attorney Drew Piersall, and suspended Dover Mayor Richard Homrighausen listen. Judge Michael Ernest ruled O'Meara doesn't have to represent Homrighausen.

DOVER (WJER) (June 24, 2022) – The city claimed a partial victory in court battles with suspended Mayor Richard Homrighausen.

Tuscarwas County Common Pleas Court Judge Michael Ernest this week threw out one of Homrighausen’s lawsuits that attempted to stop the city from bringing back three employees he had fired. They’ve been back since March, and the judge’s ruling means they can stay.

Document_Judgment Entry

However, Ernest only issued stays on three other Homrighausen legal filings – two appeals and a separate civil complaint. City officials, including Interim Mayor Shane Gunnoe, had hoped he would dismiss those, too.

Gunnoe had attempted to insert himself at the plaintiff in all the cases in place of Homrighausen, arguing Homrighausen has no authority to pursue these claims because he’s suspended. Ernest rejected that attempt, saying Homrighausen maintains the title of the mayor.

Instead, he paused the other three cases. All parties will have to wait until after Homrighausen’s criminal trial in September to see if his remaining civil actions can move forward.

Homrighausen faces 15 counts, including theft in office. If he’s convicted, he’ll lose the mayor’s job and the authority to hire and fire city employees.

Ernest rules city doesn’t have to pay mayor’s legal bills

In the case Ernest threw out, he denied Homrighausen a temporary restraining order that would have blocked a city council-approved settlement that gave those three city employees their jobs back. That means the three employees – Service Director Dave Douglas, Safety and Human Resources Director Gerry Mroczkowski, and Mayor’s Executive Assistant Eva Newsome, can keep working.

Homrighausen had also wanted the city to pay his legal costs. Ernest ruled all parties will pay their own legal costs.

Ernest in his ruling said Ohio Revised Code doesn’t require a city law director to serve a city’s mayor over his obligations to the city. “Homrighausen might disagree with the settlement … however, Homrighausen has failed to establish that he has a clear legal right to separate counsel, paid by the city of Dover.”

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