Rumors about plaintiff's mental health leads to $5M defamation suit 20 years later

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Aug. 6, 2008, 2:23pm

Byram Hurst

TEXARKANA, Ark. – An Arkansas soil conservationist is seeking more than $5 million from his supervisors and coworkers for spreading rumors about his mental health and creating a hostile work environment more than 20 years ago.

Jimmy D. Jamison filed the libel and defamation suit against Clinton Ramsey, Anderson Neal Jr., Charles E. Childress and Alan Wolfe on July 14 in the Circuit Court of Howard County, Ark.

The case was removed to the federal court, Texarkana Division of the Western District of Arkansas on Aug 4.

The plaintiff states that he has been working for the Farmer's Home Administration since 1974 and in 1986 was transferred to the Nashville, Ark., office as a soil conservationist.

Prior to his transfer, Jamison worked with a secretary that had such a poor work performance that Jamison reported her to his superior Gerald Hendrix. In turn, Hendrix turned the work performance report over to his supervisor Charles Childress.

After he turned in the report on the secretary, Jamison asserts that the defendants created a hostile work environment that eventually made him so distraught that he required hospitalization. Childress monitored the plaintiff's treatment and eventually placed him on disability retirement.

Jamison states the disability retirement was based on "slanderous documentation and powerful political connections."

When Jamison reported to the Nashville office, he said he believes Childress made his job more difficult by requiring him to cut brush for survey lines.

Jamison states that he told Childress he could not perform the work due to his medication, stress level and the hot temperatures. However, Jamison said he believes Childress continued to force him into activities which were "detrimental and harmful."

Further complicating the work environment, Jamison states Clinton Ramsey began demanding trivial things such as moving his parking place. Jamison said Ramsey also made threats such as "when I come after you Jim, you are going to know it."

Asserting civil conspiracy, Jamison accuses the defendants of "acting together in concert" to create a hostile work environment so that he could not be successful and advance his career or maintain his position in the Nashville, Ark., office.

According to the complaint, "the defendants knew he had been ill and despite this were giving him tasks which either endangered his health or aggravated his conditions. The acts of the defendants were beyond the bounds of decency and were so atrocious as they were designed to intentionally inflict upon this plaintiff extreme emotional distress."

Jamison is seeking compensatory damages of $1 million and punitive damages of $5 million to punish the defendants for any wrongful conduct.

Hot Springs attorney W. Byram Hurst Jr. of the Hurst, Morrissey and Hurst PLLC law firm is representing the plaintiff.
Jamison is requesting a trial by jury.

U.S. District Judge Harry F. Barnes will preside over the litigation.

Case No 4:2008cv04068

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