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Elder sues mayor, officials

Ingrid Mezo
The Gazette

Emmitsburg Commissioner Art Elder is suing Mayor James Hoover, the three members of the ethics commission who found him in violation of the town’s ethics code in April, and the town’s Board of Commissioners, of which he is a member, for $5.4 million.

The four counts of the suit are as follows, according to court records on file with Circuit Court of Frederick County:

* In Count One, Elder is claiming he was denied due process rights during his ethics investigation, causing him and his family ‘‘serious and grave harm."

For this count, Elder is asking the court to ‘‘declare that the Emmitsburg Code of Ethics upon which the investigation was based, was a violation of [his] right to due process, in that the code was vague and that there were no procedural guidelines."

He is asking for compensation of $1.5 million for the injuries he and his family suffered as result.

* In the second and third counts, Elder is suing Ethics Commission Chair Patrick T. ‘‘Ted" Brennan and Hoover individually for $1.2 million each, for injuries suffered both past and present due to their alleged violations of his right to due process.

Elder’s suit against Brennan alleges Brennan acted with actual malice by failing to recuse himself from Ethics Commission because of his conflict of interest with Elder since both had run for town commissioner. Elder also alleges that Brennan violated Elder’s rights to confidentiality by discussing the ethics complaint with the media without his permission, violated his rights to a ‘‘fair and objective investigation," and denied him due process.

Brennan refused to comment on the lawsuit Wednesday.

Elder’s suit against Hoover also alleges actual malice since Hoover appointed Brennan as head of the Ethics Commission. It also accuses Hoover of influencing the ethics commission to release its report finding Elder in violation of the town’s ethics code prior to the mayoral election, in which Elder was running against Hoover.

Hoover received his summons the night of the last town meeting, Dec. 5, he said.

* In the fourth count, Elder is filing against all the defendants for $1.5 million. Elder claims he suffered injury to his reputation, emotional distress, physical pain and suffering, humiliation to his community and loss of his sense of well-being as a result of the defendants’ negligence, defamation, negligent infliction of emotional distress and humiliation in failing to protect his due process rights.

Elder referred The Gazette’s inquiries to his attorney Rosemary McDermott, who could not be reached for comment before The Gazette’s press time Wednesday.

Hoover said all the defendants are insured for this type of lawsuit, and that the Local Insurance Government Trust would provide legal representation for all those involved.

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