By Paul Gable
Myers Rollins, former General Manager/CEO of Coast RTA, filed suit Tuesday against the agency he headed before being fired April 30th.
In addition to Coast RTA, Rollins is suing SCDOT, Coast RTA board members Bernie Silverman and Kitty D’Angelo, Horry County Council members Mark Lazarus and Gary Loftus, SCDOT employees Doug Frate and Hart Baker and interim Coast RTA General Manager Julie Norton-Dew.
Rollins is seeking five million dollars in compensatory damages as well as punitive damages to be determined and reinstatement as GM/CEO of Coast RTA.
According to the “Factual Allegations” listed in the lawsuit, Lazarus as chairman of county council and Loftus as a county council member and also a member of the Coast RTA board, conspired to destroy Coast RTA and Rollins.
The complaint states, “In January 2013 Lazarus was elected to council. Shortly thereafter and upon information and belief, Loftus asked Lazarus to appoint Loftus to the (Coast RTA) board which he did shortly thereafter. Loftus was sworn in as a Board Member on January 30, 2013 and thus became a “poison pill” to try and destroy Coast RTA and the Plaintiff.”
It’s a neat theory, I guess, but the allegation is not factually true.
Lazarus was elected chairman of county council in a special election conducted April 30, 2013. Loftus was already a member of the Coast RTA board when Lazarus was sworn in as county council chairman at the council’s first May 2013 meeting. The grand “poison pill” conspiracy couldn’t possibly have been put into action in January 2013.
The remainder of the complaint is, in my opinion, long on allegation and short on fact.
There was supposedly a grand conspiracy at SCDOT to falsify audit reports and conduct phony investigations with the help of Rollins’ subordinates to “get Plaintiff.”
Silverman, D’Angelo and Dew allegedly conspired together with Dew leaking negative information to the Board about Rollins so he would get replaced by Dew.
Another very interesting section deals with the special committee appointed by Lazarus in February 2014 to investigate the failed shelter and intermodal center projects.
The complaint states, “Invariably, Silverman also refused to permit Plaintiff to submit questions to the committee when others were freely allowed to do the same.”
In fact, Rollins addressed the committee in two different meetings having free exchange with committee members and having ample opportunity to present his side of the shelter project debacle, which he did. Rollins was anything but muzzled during the committee meetings.
According to the complaint, “The committee met four times and conducted a witch-hunt against Plaintiff although SCDOT and not Coast RTA were to blame for the shelter project debacle. During at least one of these meetings, Frate made false accusations – that were made public through a live TV broadcast – that he knew to be untrue and are revealed to be dishonest by plan documents and correspondence exchanges.”
Having watched all four of those meetings and having studied the various documents submitted to the committee, I can definitively say there was no “witch-hunt” and the documents demonstrate apparent mismanagement of the projects at Coast RTA.
Rollins claims in the complaint that he “sustained permanent impairment to his reputation, embarrassment, humiliation and emotional distress all of which will continue into the future” and “which are related to his being blamed, investigated, ostracized, blacklisted and plotted against which caused his unlawful termination and denial of a future contract.”