The attorney for former Treasurer’s office staff member David Singer confirmed before Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen this morning that the parties involved have decided to enter mediation rather than go to trial on a defamation lawsuit Singer filed against Treasurer Dennis Milligan and his chief of staff, Jim Harris. The announcement, which hadn’t been previously shared with the Judge before today’s hearing, led to Griffen dressing down the attorneys involved.
Singer had served as the outreach manager for the Treasurer’s office until he was fired in April. He filed a defamation suit in late May.
In the lawsuit, which you can read here, Singer alleges that Harris “published false statements about [Singer’s] lack of mental health,” made “disgusting” comments about Singer’s late wife, and accused Singer of bizarre behavior and “inappropriate activity with females.” Singer is seeking $500,000. In court today, Singer’s attorney, Lucien Gillham, also mentioned that Singer was denied a “name clearing hearing” by Milligan when he was fired.
Dennis Milligan was not in court today, with attorneys telling Griffen that Milligan was scheduled for surgery. Milligan was added to the lawsuit as a defendant on Friday of last week,
Upon hearing that the parties had agreed to mediation around 5 p.m. yesterday, Griffen pointedly asked Gillham why he hadn’t called Fifth Division Circuit Court chambers to leave a message saying they wouldn’t need the spot on this morning’s docket. Griffen — who characterized himself as “testy” instead of “irritated” — added that back in his hometown in Pike County, those who needed to cancel a date generally did so ahead of time by phone instead of showing up on the doorstep at the prearranged time to say they couldn’t go out.
Gillham eventually said he didn’t have a good reason for not informing the Judge’s office, then apologized, as did the opposing counsel. Griffen then quoted the boxer Leon Spinks, saying: “Don’t be sorry, just don’t do it anymore.”
CORRECTION: The article originally said Singer was in court with attorney Luther Sutter, rather than his associate Gillham.