Former Ford official asks judge to sanction Mayor Greg Fischer i - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Former Ford official asks judge to sanction Mayor Greg Fischer in defamation case

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Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer
LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) -- A former high-ranking Ford official has asked a judge to sanction Mayor Greg Fischer for "defiant conduct" in purposefully delaying a 2013 defamation case and refusing to answer questions in a sworn deposition.

Jay Morgan claims he was fired in 2013 as regional director of corporate and government affairs for Ford Motor co., after Fischer made false statements to Ford in order to remove Morgan from a project that proposed building a Ford worker training facility in Louisville. The suit also claims Fischer threatened Morgan and his family's employment in Louisville.

In a motion filed Tuesday, Morgan's attorney asked Jefferson circuit court Judge Mitch Perry to sanction Fischer for repeatedly and unsuccessfully trying to dismiss the case -- causing numerous delays and expenses – and not making himself available for sworn testimony.

The motion, which is scheduled to be heard in court next week, asks Perry to order Fischer to pay an unspecified amount of "fees & cost associated with responding to the countless dismissal motions filed."

The suit accuses Fischer of threatening to call Morgan's superiors during a Dec. 14, 2012 meeting. Fischer wanted to drop western Louisville as a potential location for the proposed training center, according to the suit.

Shane Sidebottom, Morgan's attorney, said city attorneys for Fischer continue to delay the case – making four requests for dismissal, three of which have been denied.

"We're anxious to move this forward so we can get to a resolution at some point," he said in an interview Thursday.

In recent documents in the lawsuit, Morgan claims Fischer, who is being sued in his individual capacity, made threats against Morgan's job and "his family's continued employment."

Asked about that allegation, Sidebottom noted that the original lawsuit stated that Fischer expressed anger about Morgan working with Metro councilman David James. Sidebottom said Fischer made statements about the employment of Morgan's wife and daughter, which Morgan felt were threatening.

Jessie Halladay, a spokesperson for the Jefferson county Attorney's Office, which is representing Fischer, said she could not comment on pending litigation.

Chris Poynter, a spokesperson for the mayor, also said he could not comment while the case is pending.

Morgan claims Fischer said of James, "You cannot trust him and should not be working with him." After the Dec. 2012 meeting, Morgan said his supervisor at Ford told him Fischer had made "very serious" derogatory accusations about Morgan's work and conduct in Louisville as the Ford representative.

The suit accuses both Fischer and Simmons college president Kevin Cosby of separately contacting Ford, saying Morgan was promising that "Ford would fund a Ford worker training facility in Louisville." Cosby has since been dropped from the suit.

In a May 18 affidavit, Fischer "denies that he contacted anyone at Ford Motor company" to tell them Morgan was promising that the company would fund a training facility in Louisville.

Cosby, who was dismissed from the suit, said in a 2014 affidavit that "at no time has Greg Fischer … had any discussion with me about Jay Morgan's employment status with Ford Motor company."

City attorneys argued in a May 29 letter to Sidebottom that there is no reason for the mayor to sit for a deposition as long as there is still a motion to dismiss the case pending.

Sidebottom has said Fischer decided he wanted to move the training facility to eastern Louisville instead.

Previously, Fischer has called the allegations "outrageous" while Cosby has said they are "absolutely false and offensive."

"My team worked hundreds of hours trying to land a significant federal grant to support worker training in Louisville," Fischer said in a statement to the media in Dec. 2013. "In fact, JCTC and Simmons College submitted a joint application, which was unsuccessful with the U.S. Department of Labor. We continue to work on this important initiative."

At that time he was fired, Morgan had worked with Ford for more than 23 years, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims Morgan set up meetings with Fischer, Cosby, James and an assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor who said the proposed training facility in western Louisville would be eligible for up to $15 million in federal grants and additional funds.

Fischer originally agreed with putting the training facility in West Louisville – allegedly saying it would "help my re-election" – and his team identified eight acres of land there, according to the lawsuit.  

In early Dec. 2012, Simmons College told Fischer's work team the college would not be able to purchase the property but would still be interested in working on the initiative, according to the suit.

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