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Purifoy not pleased with lawsuit dismissal

August 5, 2014

Deborah Purifoy, who had sued the city of Bauxite, Bauxite Mayor Johnny McMahan and police officials, says she is disappointed that the court recently dismissed her suit.

In Purifoy's suit, she alleged that she was mistreated in 2010 when Michael Turner, who was working as a Bauxite police officer, responded to a disturbance at the home of Gary and Peggy Hula, who were neighbors of Purifoy.

According to court documents, Purifoy refused to follow Turner's orders to return to her residence during the disturbance. When Turner attempted to handcuff Purifoy, a struggle ensued, leading to Purifoy's arrest and later conviction in city court for obstructing governmental operations and refusing to submit to arrest.

Purifoy appealed the conviction to Saline County Circuit Court, which upheld the city's position.

On Nov. 27, 2012, Purifoy appealed the decision in federal court. In the appeal, she alleged "constitutional violations pursuant to the Arkansas Civil Rights Act and Arkansas common law" against McMahan, Turner, former Police Chief Jimmy Hood and former Bauxite Police Officer Ron Parsons.

Purifoy said she learned about the dismissal of her case from members of the media.

"I am very disappointed," Purifoy said.

Purifoy says she still has many questions about the dismissal. She claims her lawyer failed her by not speaking to witnesses or taking depositions that were allegedly paid for by Purifoy.

Purifoy claimed that she had videotapes of Bauxite Police Department following her and accusing her of crimes. "The police have tried to have me arrested multiple times," Purifoy said. "I do not think I was treated fairly by my lawyer or the legal system."

McMahan noted previously that he was pleased with the outcome of the case.

"I was elated when I got the news that all the claims in the Purifoy lawsuit had been dismissed by U.S. Federal Judge Brian Miller," McMahan said. "I thought her allegations were bogus, frivolous, a waste of time and taxpayers' money, and obviously the judge agreed."

McMahan pointed out that the cost of defending the lawsuit put a strain on city finances. "It cost the taxpayers $3,000 to hire the Municipal League attorney, Mike Mosley – which we didn't have to spare – and I appreciate his hard work and due diligence in his efforts."

Purifoy turned down a $6,000 settlement offered by Bauxite City Council members Karen Brooks, Paula Matthews and Mona Struble at a May 27 settlement conference held at the federal courthouse in Little Rock.

McMahan alleges that the three council members secretly planned in advance what to offer as a settlement, a claim that Brooks, Matthews and Struble repeatedly have denied.

Struble, who responded to the court's decision, made this comment: "Johnny costs the city $3,000 every time he slanders someone and they decide to sue."

During the settlement negotiations, McMahan said Struble had been willing to offer Purifoy a $25,000 cash settlement plus 15 acres of land the city owns. She eventually was offered a $6,000 settlement, which she declined.

Purifoy said she does not know whether she will appeal the federal court's decision. She stated that her current lawyer is no longer interested in pursuing her case so Purifoy has asked to collect her documents prior to reevaluating whether to pursue the matter.

"I wish the police would go away and leave me alone," Purifoy said.

 

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