A court order dated July 29 shows that complaints in a civil action brought upon the Deer/Mt. Judea School District and individual school board members has been dismissed.
The civil suit was filed in October 2017 by the estate of Richard Denniston, deceased, by and through its administratrix, Olivia Burden.
Essentially, the suit claimed breach of contract after the suspension and replacement of Deer/Mt. Judea School Superintendent Denniston in June 2016. He received payments up until his death. Damages were sought for the term of the contract from June 20, 2016, through June 30, 2017. Other complaints included counts of violation of Arkansas Statute, outrage, abuse of process/malicious prosecution, fraud and defamation, interference with contractual relationships, civil conspiracy and individual liability claims.
The plaintiff sought an award for damages in an amount to be determined at a trial in the matter as well as for costs and fees.
The defendants named in the suit, who were members of the board of education at the time, filed a motion to dismiss the complaint in January 2018. The plaintiff then asked for a continuance in February. In April the plaintiff amended the complaint alleging that the school district's action was in violation of the Teachers Fair Dismissal Act, in violation of the 14th Amendment entitling Denniston to due process, in violation of the Freedom of Information Act and in violation of the American with Disabilities Act/Retaliation Claim.
It also set out damages including $3,987.40 for sick leave, $9,652.23 in Social Security, and vacation pay in the approximate amount of $7,721.85, plus damages, costs and fees.
The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint with prejudice and to award the defendants their fees and costs incurred in the defense of this baseless lawsuit.
The plaintiffs asked the motion to dismiss be denied.
In June 2018, Kerry Saylors, who was named interim superintendent following Denniston's suspension, through his own counsel, made a motion to dismiss himself from the action as he had not been served with a summons in the suit. The plaintiff made a motion to dismiss the complaint against Saylors without prejudice.
In November 2018, the court cited that the plaintiff failed to plead facts upon which relief can be granted in some counts of the complaint while the court dismissed other claims with prejudice. The order granted the plaintiff 15 days to amend the complaint to state facts upon which relief can be granted for any cause of action which the court did not dismiss with prejudice.
In December 2018, the second amended complaint was filed by the plaintiff. Causes for action listed were violation of the Freedom of Information Act, breach of contract, fraud and constructive fraud, civil conspiracy and violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act/Retaliation. It continued to seek damages including sick leave, Social Security and vacation pay.
Court action continued into 2019 with motions filed and hearings scheduled then canceled.
The final order in the case was filed July 30, 2019. Of the five remaining counts in the second amended complaint, Circuit Court Judge John Putman dismissed them all with prejudice.
As for individual liability claims the judge ruled that if the defendants are liable for breach of contract for any compensation owed to Mr. Denniston prior to his death, the breach resulted from a collective action of the Deer/Mt. Judea School Board. The individual liability claims for breach of contract were dismissed with prejudice. As such the case cannot be reopened.