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Thomason files suit against Tish alleging slander

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By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

The St. Elmo man who served as that town’s police chief until being fired last November is suing the man who fired him.

Ken Thomason, who was St. Elmo’s police chief for about 16 years, is alleging in a complaint filed last Thursday in Fayette County Circuit Court that Larry Tish slandered him a number of times.

Thomason is suing Tish as an individual and not for any actions while serving as mayor of the community. He is alleging that Tish’s slanderous comments stem from his arrest by Thomason in the past.

Thomason claims in the suit that in August of last year, Tish “made comments that are slanderous and defamatory per se to one or more third person(s) who is/are resident(s) of St. Elmo.”

The suit alleges that the “false and untrue statements and comments” by Tish include: calling him incompetent as both a police office and police chief; and saying that Thomason was “so lacking in professional ability that he is working in St. Elmo only because he cannot get a job elsewhere.”

Thomason also alleges that Tish told one or more individuals that “he has not solved a criminal case since he began working in St. Elmo,” and also that the St. Elmo Police Department, under Thomason, “is so incompetent that they are the laughing stock of Fayette County.”

The suit alleges that Tish made the statements “at a place and time when no privilege (was) attached or could be reasonably claimed.”

Thomason claims that he is eligible to receive damages for the statements “because they pertain to (his) professional standing and employment.

“The words used by Tish falsely imputed to (Thomason) an inability to perform, or want of integrity in the discharge of duties of office and employment, and they were words that were designed to prejudice (Thomason) in his trade, profession or business.”

Thomason alleges that Tish “had actual knowledge of the falsity of the statements,” and made the statements “with actual malice towards (Thomason).”

The suit alleges that Tish made the statements “for the purpose of ‘evening an old score’ arising out of an occasion when Tish was previously arrested by (Thomason).

The statements, the suit claims, “were not made for any municipal good or public interest.”

Thomason alleges that Tish made slanderous and defamatory statements about him “for the purpose of causing embarrassment and harm … and to attempt to damage (his) reputation and professional standing.”

He claims that as a result of Tish’s actions, he has “suffered real and measurable harm, including lost wages and benefits, emotional distress, humiliation, pain and suffering.”

In the complaint, Thomason is seeking compensatory damages of more than $75,000, and punitive damages of more than $75,000.

Thomason is requesting a jury trial for his complaint.

A lawsuit represents only one side of an issue. The defendant will have an opportunity to respond in court by filing an answer to the complaint, and that answer will be reported in The Leader-Union after it is filed.