Thursday, July 10, 2014

Griffith case continues despite county objections

June 14. 2013 12:18AM

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WILKES-BARRE – A Luzerne County senior judge this week said a lawsuit against the county and Controller Walter Griffith will move forward.

Senior Judge Charles Brown, in a short opinion, threw out the preliminary objections in the case filed by the county.

The suit was filed by Judd Shoval, a member of the board of CityVest, a nonprofit group that sought to revitalize the Hotel Sterling.

The suit alleges Griffith recorded a March 29 telephone conversation Shoval had with him without Shoval’s knowledge or consent. Shoval seeks damages for violation of the state wiretap law and invasion of privacy.

The county argued the suit should be thrown out because the county is not a person and cannot be sued under the Wiretap Act, nor can an officer of that county in his or her official capacity.

County Chief Solicitor David Pedri said Thursday that his office will begin to represent the county in the lawsuit, as previously stated after issues arose with the county’s insurance company paying for representation.

“I’m going to review (Brown’s) order and discuss it with previous council, regarding any options we have and we will move this litigation forward,” Pedri said, noting the county is not paying for Griffith s criminal defense. Griffith was charged criminally with felony wiretapping charges.

Brown said in his filing that he was throwing out the county’s request to dismiss the suit because of the county’s arguments.

“If (the county’s) reasoning prevails, an employee of a county and maybe other government entities, would not be liable for his/her violating the Wiretapping Act,” Brown wrote. “This is unacceptable.”

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