published Saturday, May 28th, 2011

Red Bank Elementary School lawsuit dismissed

A lawsuit by the Red Bank Elementary School PTA against two former school employees has been dismissed for the third time in Hamilton County Circuit Court.

Judge Jeff Hollingsworth dismissed the case Monday for failure to prosecute.

The PTA sued former principal Deborah Foster and former treasurer and janitor Mary Lynn Dugger in 2006. The suit followed a 2005 audit that showed more than $17,000 was missing or had been spent without documentation between 2002 and 2004.

Foster resigned during the preliminary investigation, according to Chattanooga Times Free Press archives.

Foster and Dugger were arrested on theft charges in April 2007. In February 2008, Foster was put on eight years’ probation and ordered to pay $9,724 in restitution. Dugger received four years’ probation and was ordered to pay $4,800 in restitution, according to court records.

The original lawsuit sought an additional $600,000 in compensatory and punitive damages from Dugger and Foster.

Hollingsworth wrote in his order of dismissal that the suit had been dismissed first in February 2010, reinstated by the PTA, and dismissed again in February 2011 because “the (PTA) did not take any action to prosecute the matter after it was reinstated.”

Attorneys for the PTA claimed the earlier dismissals violated their clients’ constitutional rights to due process. They challenged the Circuit Court’s method of clearing dormant cases, which has previously been upheld.

The PTA can appeal the decision to the Tennessee Court of Appeals.

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