By Greg Gullberg
February 11, 2013
Valdosta, GA - Lowndes County Sheriff Chris Prine will not be going to court in a lawsuit against him. But he will be paying out more than half a million dollars to the plaintiffs.
"We're all glad that it's over. It's been a long stressful four years," said Thomas Crews, one of three plaintiffs against the Sheriff.
The four year legal battle with the Lowndes Sheriffs Department ends with a $600,000 settlement. That's $200,000 for each of three plaintiffs claiming wrongful termination and work place discrimination.
Thomas Crews along with Michelle Keene and Leanne Bennett all worked for the Department under Lowndes Sheriff Chris Prine.
"I think it was very well worth it. We felt like we might have been able to get a little more but they made a fair offer and we decided to go with that," Crews said.
Thomas Crews was a Lowndes Deputy for 28 years. He says he was fired for a lingering knee injury and age discrimination.
Sheriff Prine's attorney says the decision to settle was made by the county's insurance company and therefore was out of the sheriff's hands.
"I think he felt like if the case had been tried he certainly would have been vindicated," said attorney Richard Strickland of Brunswick, GA. "I think on some level Chris was disappointed he didn't get to go to trial, but on another level I think he wanted to get back to the business of running the Sheriffs Department."
"It's 2013, something's got to change," said Crews. "And i just don't think the sheriff has the right to just come in and terminate people for no cause at all."
The sheriff and county won't be paying a penny in legal fees. The settlement will be paid for by the county's insurance policy.
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