WINNSBORO — A defamation lawsuit against Fairfield County has been dismissed after a ruling referencing the South Carolina Tort Claims Act.
Michael Hollis, former Animal Control Supervisor of Fairfield County, sued the county after he was fired from his position following his handling of a case in which an owner’s dog severely wounded another dog.
According to court records, after being fired by County Deputy Administrator Davis Anderson, Hollis filed a grievance claiming that the county defamed him and conspired to terminate his employment. The firing was upheld by County Administrator Phil Hinely.
Hinely also accepted the recommendation of the county grievance committee to uphold the termination.
Legally, under the S.C. Tort Claims Act, Fairfield County would not be held liable for “employee conduct outside the scope of his official duties or which constitutes actual fraud, actual malice, intent to harm, or a crime involving moral turpitude, ” S.C. Code Ann. 15-78-60(17) (Supp. 1993)).
The court determined the way Hollis handled the dog mauling case met those standards of conduct.
According to the ruling in the Court of Common Pleas, Hollis held a public position as an at-will employee. Those facts limited his ability to plea that a civil conspiracy occurred. Therefore, the court ruled in favor of the county, according to Judge Brooks P. Goldsmith.
The case ended with the action against the county being dismissed.