DOVER (WJER) (April 8, 2022) – Mayor Richard Homrighausen has now filed two civil complaints against the city he represents.
He filed one in Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court in February, trying to get the court to make the city pay some of his legal bills.
He filed another one Thursday, asking the court to block the rehiring of three employees he fired in December, even though they’ve been back at work for two weeks.
Homrighausen’s new civil complaint in Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court lists as defendants the city of Dover, city Law Director Doug O’Meara, and the three employees – Dave Douglas, Eva Newsome and Gerry Mroczkowski.
It asks the court to void the settlement agreement that brought the three back to work. It also asks for attorney and legal fees and other unspecified relief.
Homrighausen reiterates claims he has made in other court filings: that the settlement is illegal, it usurps his authority, and admits Homrighausen fired the employees illegally while not involving him in the settlement negotiations. ATT56168
The State Personnel Board of Review has approved the settlement. The employees, Dover City Council, and O’Meara all agree Homrighausen violated whistleblower laws by firing them after they reported potentially unlawful conduct.
About three months after Homrighausen fired the employees, a Tuscarawas County grand jury indicted him on 15 criminal counts, including felony theft in office. He pleaded not guilty to those counts March 30.
Homrighausen has said he won’t comment until all the issues are resolved in court.
Homrighausen has a court date scheduled for Monday at 10 a.m. in his other civil case against the city and O’Meara. It’s open to the public.
Homrighausen is trying to get the city to pay for his legal representation in matters involving the three employees he fired in December.
City Council and O’Meara reached a settlement agreement to bring them back, but Homrighausen is trying to intervene. He’s also seeking a temporary restraining order to block the settlement even though those employees have been back at work since March 25.
Homrighausen filed another motion in that case this week, reiterating his argument that the settlement is illegal.
The motion does not address the recent grand jury indictment against him. The city’s attorneys argue that disqualifies Homrighausen from seeking a restraining order.
Both sides are scheduled to give oral arguments from 10 a.m. to noon Monday in Judge Michael Ernest’s courtroom at the courthouse in New Philadelphia.
Ernest says he will rule on the Homrighausen’s requests after the hearing.
Homrighausen names his attorney
Homrighausen had been representing himself in that case, but Thursday added an attorney – Johnathan J. Downes of the Zashin and Rich firm with offices in Cleveland and Columbus.
Downes has represented the mayor before.
When council was investigating the mayor in April 2021, Downes attended a council meeting in place of Homrighausen. He accused council in its investigation of ageism and overstepping its authority.
“It’s a clear example of Council’s attempt to manage the city which is clearly outside the authority of the legislative body,” he said at the time. “The numerous ageist comments made [by] Council members raise initial concerns and possible exposure for the city.”
Council’s investigation uncovered several areas of concern that also are included in the grand jury indictment against Homrighausen.