The Herald Bulletin

April 10, 2014

Elwood files response to Nance lawsuit

Arnold denies wrongdoing

By Zach Osowski The Herald Bulletin
The Herald Bulletin

---- — ELWOOD — The city of Elwood and Mayor Ron Arnold released a statement denying any of the allegations made by former Parks Superintendent Dan Nance.

Nance filed a lawsuit against Elwood, Arnold and former Chief of Police Sam Hanna on claims they wrongfully terminated him from his position as parks superintendent.

In an official response to the lawsuit, the city and Arnold denied all of Nance’s statements that he was wrongfully investigated and terminated and that his right to free speech was violated.

The situation began in 2011 when Arnold, who was running for mayor, asked Nance for use of a shelter that was owned by the parks department. Nance told Arnold the shelter was unavailable but let him have use of a baseball field, according to court documents.

The city’s response said that after Nance had told Arnold the shelter was unavailable it was given to one of Arnold’s opponents.

Shortly after Arnold was sworn in as mayor, he sent Nance a letter saying he was being suspended due to an ongoing investigation involving some alleged discrepancies in a state audit of Elwood.

When the audit was released, no wrongdoing on Nance’s part was found.

Nance was also criminally charged but found not guilty of official misconduct and failure to deposit public funds in November 2013.

The original suit was filed in February and was recently requested to be transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. The attorneys for Elwood and Arnold said they did not have a problem with the possible change of court.

The response maintained the steps the city took in Nance’s investigation were the same steps it would have taken with any employee and had nothing to do with any bad blood that may have been going on between Nance and Arnold.

The document also maintained Nance’s unlawful arrest claim is unsubstantiated because the city had probable cause and that the defendants did not engage in outrageous behavior as Nance claims.

In addition to the alleged violation of his constitutional rights, Nance is also accusing Elwood, Arnold and Hanna of conspiracy, defamation, malicious prosecution, wrongful discharge, invasion of privacy because of unfavorable publicity and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

No date has been set for an initial hearing.

Follow Zach Osowski on Twitter @Osowski_THB, or call 640-4847.