Stephen D. Adams, former Tennessee Lottery chief administrative officer, has asked the Davidson Country Chancery Court to allow him to join NashvillePost.com’s lawsuit against the lottery to open records on his termination for alleged workplace harassment.
Adams filed his request in court today, and his attorney will argue for his inclusion at a 10 a.m. hearing tomorrow before Chancellor Carol McCoy.
Adams says his termination was “based upon an investigation report” which the lottery has refused to let him see. That refusal is a violation of Tennessee’s public records statute, his filing argues.
“I continue to believe that my termination was unjustified,” Adams told NashvillePost.com. “Based on the advice of my attorneys, my immediate legal remedy is to intervene in the open records petition.”
Adams, who served as Tennessee's State Treasurer for 16 years before becoming the only member of the lottery's five-member senior management team not recruited from the Georgia Lottery, said his only interest is in restoring his reputation.
“Release of the records will allow reasonable people to determine if the termination action was justified,” he said. “I have no interest in the complainant's or witnesses' names being made public, and I have no hard feelings towards them.”
Adams' move came as a surprise to the staff of NashvillePost.com. The online news service had not invited Adams to join the lawsuit, although its attorneys -- George E. Barrett, Edmund L. Carey Jr. and Gerald E. Martin of the Nashville law firm Barrett, Johnston & Parsley -- did send a letter on January 10 to Tennessean editor E. J. Mitchell II, inviting the daily newspaper to join in the legal action. The attorneys wrote that they would “welcome the participation of the Tennessean because of its long history of defense of the right of the public to know and the First Amendment.”
The lawyers have received no reply.
Also today, the Tennessee Attorney General’s office, on behalf of the Tennessee Education Lottery Corp., filed a response to NashvillePost.com's lawsuit. The state moved beyond its previous assertion of attorney-client privilege adding the claim that the investigation was an attorney work product.
Because the lottery’s general counsel, Wanda Young Wilson, oversaw the investigation following a harassment complaint against Adams, records of the probe are excluded under the open records statute, according to the state.
The state's response says that Wilson “believed there was a very real possibility of litigation” arising out of the investigation. Lottery CEO Rebecca Paul and board chairman Dennis Bottorff agreed, recommending that Wilson hire outside counsel, and attorney Mary Neil Price of Miller & Martin was retained in that role.