KATV reports that a verdict was reached late last night in the wrongful termination and defamation lawsuit brought by former David Singer, a former Arkansas treasurer’s office staffer, against Treasurer Dennis Milligan and his former chief of staff Jim Harris. The jury cleared Milligan and Harris on all counts.
Singer was fired without public explanation as outreach manager in April of 2015. In his lawsuit, originally filed in Circuit Court the following May, he alleged that Harris made “slanderous and defamatory remarks,” including spreading false statements about Singer’s mental health to Milligan, co-workers, and the press. Singer also alleged that Harris had made derogatory remarks “in a disgusting manner” related to Singer’s wife, who had died of cancer. Here are some FOI’d examples of the bad vibes between Singer and Harris. Milligan was added to the suit for refusing a name-clearing hearing for Singer. The case moved to the U.S. District Court in Little Rock when an Americans with Disabilities Act claim and other federal complaints were added (Singer alleged that Milligan violated federal disability law by firing him based upon Harris’s claims about his mental health).
After the verdict, Milligan released the following statement to KATV:
We’re pleased with the decision the jury made today with regard to the untruthful allegation that we terminated Mr. Singer based on a perceived disability. Since the beginning of this lawsuit, we’ve been faced with numerous false accusations against me and the State of Arkansas, and we have been vindicated each time. As we’ve known all along, these are all just lies created in order to smear my record.
To insinuate that we terminated this individual for reasons other than the fact that he repeatedly did not do the jobs he was asked to do, is ridiculous and quite frankly, appalling. We do not and will not discriminate against people with disabilities in our office.
I hope that we can move past this now and quit wasting so much taxpayer money and time on frivolous legal claims such as this.
As with all things Milligan, the case has made for some clown-car headlines along the way. During a deposition, Milligan and Luther Sutter — one of Singer’s attorneys, who previously won a $30,000 settlement in a suit against Milligan on behalf of an employee Milligan fired while Saline County circuit clerk — got in a shoving match. Sutter said he acted in self defense after Milligan attacked him and sued him in civil court in a separate case (that case is ongoing). Milligan, for his part, said that the shoving match caused him to have chest pains. The next day he wore a sling on his arm and did not show up to a meeting because he said he was homebound recovering from the altercation.
Milligan’s career in public life has been colorful. He illegally hired a cousin, tried to extort a political opponent at a Krispy Kreme, engaged in questionable campaign finance practices, and said we needed another September 11. To name just a few. More recently, a Milligan staffer resigned after publicly stating, “Gay jokes are back, ya bunch of homos!” after the election of Donald Trump.