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Judge dismisses man's lawsuit against county

May 23, 2007|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

A lawsuit alleging that Hagerstown Regional Airport Manager Carolyn Motz made inappropriate advances toward a male employee has been dismissed by a U.S. District Court judge.

A federal appeals court upheld the district court judge's decision.

The employee, Larry Ardinger, had 90 days to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, but didn't indicate that he would, said his appellate attorney, C. William Michaels of Baltimore.

The 90-day period ended this month. Ardinger is not listed in U.S. Supreme Court online records.

Ardinger sued Washington County in 2005, seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

He was fired from his county job in 2003, two weeks after telling Motz that other employees might suspect them of having an affair, according to his court complaint.

At the time, Jonathan Topazian, the county's labor counsel from the firm Semmes, Bowen & Semmes, said there was "no factual or legal basis" for the lawsuit.

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On Jan. 23, 2006, U.S. District Judge Andre M. Davis granted the defense motion to dismiss the case by summary judgment, according to court records.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va., upheld Davis' decision on Feb. 5.

Ardinger "was fired because he wrote a sexually explicit letter to the airport manager," Topazian said Tuesday.

Michaels said Ardinger wrote Motz a letter about a gift, but denied writing the offensive letter, which was unsigned; the authorship was not proved in court.

Michaels said Ardinger believes he was fired for voicing concerns about Motz's behavior.

Motz declined to comment Tuesday.

Ardinger couldn't be reached by phone. The number listed for him in a phone directory was disconnected.

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