A 33-year Metro police sergeant who resigned last year with disciplinary proceedings pending against him has sued the city, claiming Assistant Chief Steve Anderson — who took over this month as the city’s interim police chief — forced his departure as an act of age discrimination.
Left unmentioned in the lawsuit, however, is the officer’s admission to internal-affairs investigators that he drove his squad car out of the county to visit a woman who reputedly liked to date policemen and then contacted her dozens of times in a failed bid at romance.
Buddy F. Mitchell II filed his complaint in Nashville’s U.S. District Court on May 10. He claims that after he turned 50 a few years ago and topped out at a salary around $100,000 a year, Anderson and other senior officials “began to work to attempt to find some disciplinary charge” by which to oust him so he could be “replaced with a younger sergeant.”
On May 9, 2009, Mitchell says, Anderson called him in and told him: “This is your last day to be a law-enforcement officer in Tennessee.” The lawsuit claims Anderson made “pretextual allegations” against Mitchell and told him “falsehoods” to intimidate him into resigning. It asserts the police department has a pattern of treating older employees this way.
Metro Police spokesman Don Aaron said neither the department nor Anderson could comment on the matter. But records at the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility provide details of the investigation that led to Mitchell’s resignation.
With his attorney present, Mitchell admitted to investigators that he had driven his police cruiser to an apartment complex in Millersville, across the Sumner County line, in early 2008. A woman living there said he told her he was looking into the theft of laptop computers from the Metro Election Commission in late 2007, although other police officials testified he had nothing to do with that case. Mitchell admitted he later phoned the woman some 20 to 30 times and did not deny that he might have “asked her if she wanted to meet at a motel.”
Mitchell “reluctantly” said that a Millersville cop had told him of a woman living at the apartments whose car had a sexually suggestive custom license plate and who was “very sexually promiscuous.” He admitted that because he was “very curious” about the woman, he “used the cover of an official police investigation” to approach her.
Nashville attorney Dan R. Alexander represents Mitchell in the lawsuit.
U.S. District Court
David Sellers v. Olive & Sinclair Chocolate LLC and Scott Witherow. Filed May 11. Olive & Sinclair, which launched a line of creatively flavored chocolate bars last year that has received much attention in local culinary circles, faces a wage-and-hour claim from a former worker who also says he was supposed to have shared in ownership of the company.
Sellers says he initially worked for the venture in 2008 without any pay and that entrepreneur Witherow promised to make him a “partner” in the business. In September 2009, he says, Witherow started paying him a salary after telling him he could not be a partner. Sellers claims that he worked a total of more than 2,500 hours for the company before Witherow fired him in late 2009, and that the pay he received amounted to a rate of $1.33 per hour.
“We deny that Mr. Sellers is entitled to any compensation for anything he performed for Olive & Sinclair,” Witherow responded in a prepared statement. “We also deny that he was promised any ownership interest in the company. He was specifically advised that he would have no such interest. We intend to defend this case vigorously.”
Plaintiff’s attorney: Jonathan A. Street of Higgins, Himmelberg & Piliponis in Nashville.
American Honda Motor Co. Inc. v. Amplifier Advertising LLC, Gunnar T. Eng and Timothy J. Best. Voluntary dismissal without prejudice filed May 11. Soon after ad agency Amplifier shut down last year, client Honda sued it and principals Best and Eng, claiming they misappropriated some $1.5 million in funds that were supposed to go toward ad purchases. Now Honda has dropped the lawsuit, while retaining the right to refile it.
Honda counsel M. Edward Owens Jr., of Lewis, King, Krieg & Waldrop P.C. in Knoxville, did not respond to an e-mail asking why his client abandoned its claim.
“Honda's voluntary decision affirmed something Gunnar Eng and I already knew: There was no wrongdoing,” Tim Best said. “We were just one of thousands of businesses that closed during the worst economy in 70 years. That, in and of itself, was painful and unfortunate.”
Defendants’ attorneys: David P. Cañas and Kenneth S. Byrd of Harwell Howard Hyne Gabbert & Manner PC.
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
L. Leon Moore. Chapter 7 petition filed May 10. Moore, a major Sumner County real estate developer and founder of the ShoLodge hotel chain, takes personal bankruptcy after three of his residential developments filed for reorganization in the past year.
Estimated assets: $1 million to $10 million. Estimated liabilities: $10 million to $50 million. Creditors docketed so far: The Bank of Nashville, American Security Bank & Trust Co. and Pinnacle National Bank. Attorney: Eugene N. Bulso Jr., of Leader, Bulso, Nolan & Burnstein PLC, Nashville.