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Thomley sues Matthews for $2 million

Posted: June 15, 2014 1:07 p.m.
Updated: June 16, 2014 5:00 a.m.

David Thomley

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David Thomley lost his bid to be Kershaw County Sheriff in Tuesday’s Republican primary and two days later filed a $2 million lawsuit against Sheriff Jim Matthews. Thomley is a former captain with the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office and the suit alleges Matthews made disparaging comments about Thomley’s investigation of a reported case of "fighting and bullying" involving several students at Camden Military Academy (CMA).

The suit, obtained from the Kershaw County Clerk of Court, says Thomley was a volunteer and coach at CMA at the time and "did not participate in the investigation because it would create a conflict of interest." In the investigation, the sheriff’s office collected three cell phones for evidence. Investigators concluded CMA played no part in the incident, the court document says.

Thomley’s suit says that in June, 2013, Matthews said Thomley, "as a former Kershaw County Deputy Sheriff in connection with his relationship with CMA, failed to investigate the alleged fighting, withheld evidence, and was negligent in not laying any blame with CMA."

The suit claims Matthews statements were "false, made with reckless disregard for the truth, and known by the Defendant (Matthews) to be false at the time the statements were made because the Plaintiff (Thomley) had nothing to do with the investigation, did not even take possession of any evidence, and refrained from any involvement with the incident due to his relationship so as to avoid a conflict of interest." Thomley’s suit says Matthews statements "amount to defamatory slander and libel … which are actionable under the common law of the State of South Carolina."

Thomley alleges Matthews’ statements caused damage to Thomley’s reputation, caused emotional distress, embarrassment, humiliation and a potential loss of earning capacity. The suit asks for $1 million in actual damages and another $1 in punitive damages. It was filed Thursday on Thomley’s behalf by Columbia attorney Ashley C. Story.

Matthews said Friday, "I cannot comment on the lawsuit. However, how can a man criticize me at the political forum for prompting lawsuits, when he was planning to sue me at the very same time? How can he say on election night that he will ‘continue to be supportive of law enforcement and of Sheriff Matthews,’ when his lawsuit was signed earlier that day? Is this how you act when you say you have the best interests of Kershaw County at heart?"

Phone messages left for Thomley on Friday were not returned by deadline.



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