DOVER (WJER) (February 25, 2022) – The mayor is suing the city and its law director.
Richard Homrighausen, according to court documents, wants the city to provide him with legal counsel because he feels Law Director Doug O’Meara is working against him.
Homrighausen Friday afternoon filed a complaint in Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court arguing O’Meara has a duty to represent him and has failed to do that by excluding him from legal proceedings and admitting liability on behalf of the mayor.
Most of Homrighausen’s complaint focuses on a State Personnel Board of Review case. Three employees are appealing their terminations at the hands of the mayor, arguing he violated whistleblower laws.
O’Meara and City Council have reached a potential settlement agreement with those employees to give them their jobs back.
Homrighausen in court documents calls the settlement illegal and “maybe the most bizarre settlement agreement drafted in Ohio’s history.”
He says in it, O’Meara exposes Homrighausen to potential future claims and damages. Because of that, Homrighausen says he cannot and will not have O’Meara represent him, even though he believes O’Meara is obligated to do so.
Homrighausen is asking the court to mandate the city provide him with alternative legal counsel at the city’s expense and is asking the city and O’Meara to pay his attorney and legal fees associated with this complaint.
He even takes a little dig at the city, specifically city council-approved legal expenses, saying Dover certainly has the funds to provide representation considering it has spent about 346-thousand dollars on legal expenses between September 2020 and January of this year.
Homrighausen’s wife, Linda, said the mayor has spent $55,000 of his own money on legal costs.
Homrighausen files to delay employees’ appeal proceedings
Despite a sternly worded order from an administrative law judge, Homrighausen did not provide the State Personnel Review Board with his reasoning for firing three employees in December by a Feb. 24 deadline.
Instead, Homrighausen asked to pause the proceedings until the city hires an attorney for him because the city’s law director isn’t representing him.
Dover City Council President Shane Gunnoe says he hopes the filings don’t delay Council’s effort to resolve the employees’ appeal.
“Certainly those employees deserve a resolution and I think the taxpayers of the city of Dover would like to see a resolution fairly quickly to avoid additional expenses,” Gunnoe said.
Judge Raymond M. Geis is overseeing the three employees’ appeal of their firings. Dover City Council has approved approved a settlement to give them back their jobs and resolve the appeals case.
However, Homrighausen had moved to intervene, and now is moving to stay the proceedings.
Homrighausen says he’s not comfortable filing the requested affidavit without legal counsel, and he doesn’t trust O’Meara to represent him.
Homrighausen submitted as evidence articles by WJER and the Bargain Hunter quoting O’Meara as saying he represents the city and not the mayor.
The judge had asked Homrighausen to provide documents supporting his reasons for terminating the employees by Feb. 24. The judge’s order said failure to do that could lead to a finding of illegal discrimination by the mayor under state whistleblower protection laws.
Homrighausen has said he will not comment on the proceedings outside the filings.
Dover City Council members are expected to meet soon to confirm their unanimous approval of the settlement by overriding the mayor’s veto of the legislation. It’s not clear yet how these latest developments will impact that legislation.