Civil rights lawsuit against commissioners dismissed


DAYTON — A federal judge has dismissed civil rights lawsuit claims leveled at the Greene County Board of Commissioners earlier this year.

The lawsuit, which is still open against the Greene County Combined Health District, Health Commissioner Melissa Branum, as well as several John Does, was filed by former health district employee Aloysius Onuoha in Dayton’s U.S. District Court in February, alleges several civil rights violations.

In the initial lawsuit filed in February, Onuoha alleged that between 2013 and 2014 he was harassed and berated on the job by Branum and that he was terminated in retaliation to discrimination allegations he made against Branum and the district, as well as because of his age (Onuoha was over 40 when he was terminated). Branum and the district have previously denied these claims in their response to the lawsuit.

In his lawsuit, Onuoha also claimed that commissioners had authority over the district and alleged that commissioners approved of his termination from the health district, among other claims, which commissioners have previously denied.

“Defendant denies that the Greene County Board of Commissioners played any role in the termination of Plaintiff’s employment as Plaintiff was not an employee of the Greene County Board of Commissioners,” one of the board’s responses to the lawsuit stated. “The Greene County Board of Commissioners has no authority over Co-Defendants [Branum] or the Greene County Combined Health District’s employment decisions. Defendant further denies that it approved of Plaintiff’s termination in any way.”

U.S. District Judge Walter Rice ruled in favor of the board last week following a recommendation issued by U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Merz in November. In a report, Merz sided with commissioners in noting that the board and the health district are separate political subdivisions and that district employees are not employees of the county commissioners.

No objections were filed in relation to Merz’s recommendation.

In his initial complaint, Onuoha asked that he be awarded compensatory and punitive damages, as well as back pay and other relief. The lawsuit was filed in federal court because of the civil rights nature of the accusations, as well as the amount in controversy exceeding $75,000.

By Nathan Pilling

[email protected]

Reach Nathan Pilling at 937-502-4498 or on Twitter @XDGNatePilling.

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