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McMahan responds to dismissal of lawsuit

August 1, 2014

A lawsuit filed by Bauxite resident Deborah Purifoy against the city of Bauxite, Mayor Johnny McMahan and police officials has been dismissed.

In the complaint, Purifoy alleged that she was mistreated during an incident in 2010.

The dismissal notes that on Sept. 11, 2010, Michael Turner, a defendant in the suit, was working as a Bauxite police officer and was called to the home of Gary and Peggy Hula in response to a domestic disturbance call. Purifoy is a neighbor of the Hulas.

The document notes that "when Turner arrived at the Hula residence, Purifoy was there and Turner asked her to leave so he could talk to Gary. Purifoy began questioning Turner and, at one point, told Gary to go inside his house because Turner's investigation was over. Turner warned Purifoy several times that she needed to return home or risk being handcuffed and placed in his patrol car. Purifoy eventually left the scene. Turner directed Peggy to stay at another neighbor's house and not to return home that night because she and Gary were both intoxicated."

Turner left the scene and reported the incident to Chief of Police Jimmy Hood, the suit noted.

The suit further states: "Shortly thereafter, Purifoy called Turner and told him that Gary was at her home because Peggy had returned to the Hula residence. Turner went to Hula residence, and when no one answered, he drove to Purifoy's home. When he arrived at Purifoy's home, Purifoy attempted to aid Gary to walk to his home, but Turner ordered her to stay at her house and stated he would help Gary."

According to court documents, Purifoy refused and followed Turner, talking to him as he walked. Turner attempted to handcuff Purifoy, but she resisted and they engaged in a struggle. Purifoy was arrested and later convicted in city court of obstructing governmental operations and refusing to submit to arrest.

Purifoy appealed the conviction to the Saline County Circuit Court, which upheld the city's position.

On Nov. 27, 2012, Purifoy filed her suit, in which she alleged "constitutional violations pursuant to the Arkansas Civil Rights Act and Arkansas common law" against McMahan, Officer Turner, former Police Chief Jimmy Hood and former Bauxite Police Officer Ron Parsons.

When reached for comment regarding the dismissal of the suit, McMahan said: “I was elated when I got the news that all claims in the Purifoy lawsuit had been dismissed by U.S. Federal Judge Brian Miller. I thought her allegations were bogus, frivolous, a waste of time and taxpayers' money, and obviously the judge agreed.

"Her claims offered no credible evidence and were outrageous. I thought Judge Miller was correct when he stated that she did not prove any of her points – they were merely misguided allegations wrapped around bogus statements. This lawsuit was her standard operating procedure – make a lot of 'over the top' charges and hope somebody will believe her and maybe something sticks to the wall. This time it did not.

"A couple of weeks ago an ethics complaint that she filed against me was dismissed 4-0 because it was also trivial and worthless," he said.

McMahan also pointed out that the cost of defending the lawsuit put a strain on city finances. "It cost the taxpayers $3,000 to hire the Municipal League attorney, Mike Mosley – which we didn't have to spare – and I appreciate his hard work and due diligence in his efforts.

"Mike told me he would have carried it to the U.S. Supreme Court if he had to in order to prevail," he said.
McMahan noted that Purifoy turned down a $6,000 settlement offered by Bauxite City Council members Karen Brooks, Paula Matthews and Mona Struble at a May 27 settlement conference held at the federal courthouse in Little Rock.

"Those three started out offering $1,500, quickly went to $3,000 and finally agreed to pay Purifoy $6,000 to settle," McMahan said.

During the conference, Purifoy said she wanted either $9,500 and 15 acres of land that Bauxite owns or $25,000 cash to settle.

"Mike Mosley said it was not acceptable and we went home. She rolled the dice and got nothing, which is what she deserved – nothing. I believe it's safe to say that she has those three council members in her back pocket and is doing the thinking for them, and they follow her marching orders."

McMahan added, "Our one intelligent council member, Brenda Haney, stated that Purifoy didn't deserve a dime and held out through the whole ordeal. I can safely say that I have one council member that thinks like a federal judge and three that think like the Three Stooges.

"I still contend that Brooks, Matthews and Struble cooked up the settlement amounts on the way to the conference as they all rode together that day. It was too easy for them to agree exactly on all the amounts. And they wonder why I want to cut their salaries from $175 to $50 per month. I don't know if they are earning $25 a month."

McMahan noted that about a month ago his office received an email from Struble "saying we needed to go ahead and settle the lawsuit and turn over the 15 acres to Purifoy. I thought Mona was nuts then and I still think she's nuts now."

"In my opinion, Purifoy is pulling her strings along with the other two and they are causing havoc in city affairs.”

Purifoy was reached for comment on the lawsuit dismissal. She agreed to speak with The Saline Courier, but arrangements could not be made prior to today's deadline.

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