Defendants request more time to respond to City Manager Richardson’s lawsuit against Charlottesville City Council

Both sides in a federal lawsuit filed by a former city manager against Charlottesville City Council have filed extensions requesting more time to file the next round of legal responses. 

Dr. Tarron Richardson sued Charlottesville City Council and several individuals by name in the Western District of Virginia last November alleging that the city had denied his first amendment rights by not allowing an op-ed to be published in the Daily Progress months after his resignation in September 2020. In addition to Council, former City Attorney John Blair, current City Attorney Lisa Robertson, former City Councilor Heather Hill, and former Mayor Nikuyah Walker are all named in the suit. 

Before resigning, Richardson had signed a release and waiver governing his $205,000 in severance that included a mutual non-disparagement clause. 

On January 26, an attorney for Lisa Robertson filed a motion asking for the suit against her to be thrown out. (read the motion)

“The complaint does not state a claim against Robertson, as she did not personally deprive Plaintiff of his First Amendment rights,” reads that motion. “Plaintiff waived his claims against the City, as well as its employees and officials by signing the release.”

Read the motion

The motion also states Robertson has qualified immunity and cannot be sued as a private individual. It goes on to refute Richardson’s claim that his publication of the op-ed was stopped by Robertson. Instead, the motion states the then interim city attorney warned Richardson’s counsel twice in February 2021 that the city could pursue action if he broke the non-disparagement clause. 

On February 8, Richardson’s attorneys filed a motion requesting more time to respond to Robertson’s request to be dismissed, a request granted by Judge Norman K. Moon on February 11. 

Charlottesville has hired Richard Milnor to represent the city and he filed a motion on January 20 requesting more time to respond to the initial complaint. On February 11, Milnor asked to have until February 28 to respond. Judge Norman K. Moon granted that extension. 

Yesterday, the suit turned 90 days old which triggered a notice to Richardson’s attorney that summons have not yet been served to Heather Hill, Nikuyah Walker, John Blair, or Robertson. Only the city of Charlottesville has received a summons. 

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the February 17, 2022 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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