HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - The Mississippi Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a 2016 ruling of the Forrest County Circuit Court in a suit filed against the City of Hattiesburg, former Mayor Johnny Dupree and the City Council.
Sharon Mark sued Hattiesburg and several city officials in 2013, claiming slander, invasion of privacy, breach of implied contract, negligence and intentional and/or negligent infliction of emotional distress.
Mark became the municipal court clerk for the City in 2004 and served as an at-will employee. Allegations of impropriety were made in 2012 against Mark and several deputy clerks she supervised. The allegations included that the clerks had hidden paperwork, shredded documents, accepted bribes in exchange for dismissing tickets, fines and warrants, and engaged in inappropriate contact with judges, according to court documents.
The Hattiesburg Police Department conducted an internal investigation, leading to discipline against the clerks. Mark and two deputy clerks were suspended without pay and another deputy clerk was fired. Mark was also ordered to pay $300 in restitution to the city.
HPD Chief Frazier Bolton and Dupree upheld Mark’s suspension after she filed a grievance letter with her supervisor. Dupree reassigned Mark to the housing department in January 2013.
Mark later sued, claiming the City and city officials slandered her and violated her rights to privacy in the summer and fall of 2012 while she was ill and recovering from breast cancer.
The Forrest County Circuit Court granted a summary judgement for the City but denied it for the Mayor and City Council, allowing Mark to pursue her legal action Dupree and the council members.
After a five-day trial in 2016, the circuit court granted a directed verdict motion for Dupree and the City Council. Mark appealed the decision, claiming the court erred in the grant of a summary-judgement for the City and a directed-verdict motion for the mayor and council.
The Court of Appeals ruled in January the circuit court had not erred in either judgement and affirmed the rulings.