A former Statham employee filed a lawsuit Sept. 9 in Barrow County Superior Court seeking compensatory and punitive damages for nude photos of her on a city computer.
Carole Amos, who worked in the planning and zoning office, sued the city, Mayor Robert Bridges, former administrator Michelle Irizarry, attorney Thomas Mitchell, city clerk Mai Chang and public works director Sam Powell.
The lawsuit says while Amos was an employee of the city, she had a romantic relationship with another city employee, John Looney. The suit says the city did not have a policy about employee relationships or about fraternizing with other employees.
She maintains “nothing improper . . . ever occurred during work hours.”
According to the lawsuit, Looney took a week off from work in December 2017 and Amos did not hear from him. He did not respond to her “attempts to reach him by way of his private cell phone.” She said she paid the monthly bill for Looney’s phone.
When she did not hear from him, she called Irizarry and police chief Allan Johnston, the suit says.
“Shortly thereafter,” the suit says, the administrator met with her “and presented her with a letter placing her on administrative leave and instructed (her) to come back the following Monday for a meeting in regards to an investigation being conducted.”
In the meeting, Amos says in the suit, she was “forced to participate in a recorded interview” about her relationship with Looney.
She said Irizarry and Mitchell “placed an extreme amount of pressure” on her for answers during the interview.
According to the lawsuit, Looney showed a video of Amos expressing her love for him on his personal cell phone and Powell asked permission to copy that onto a city computer.
She said she learned about the city having photos of her in June 2018 when Mitchell told her he would release the photos through an open records request. She said she demanded the photos be destroyed and taken off the city computer.
Mitchell gave her a week to hire an attorney and release the photos on a disk to Catherine Corkren, who made the open-records request. Amos said she did not know Corkren, who called her after she got the photos.
She filed an “ante litem” notice, which indicates a coming lawsuit, with the city Nov. 26, 2018.
Amos maintains the city allowed “unauthorized publication of private facts” and “unlawfully obtained the photos.” The lawsuit characterizes the city’s “investigation” as “illegal.”
She says she did not give anyone permission to see the photos other than Looney.
Amos contends the photos have been “kept and viewed by multiple individuals employed with the city.”
She says that is an “intentional” infliction of emotional distress to her and “had nothing to do with city business.”
Jason Black and Kenneth Stroud, attorneys in Suwanee, filed the lawsuit. The lawsuit also seeks attorneys’ fees for representing Amos.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct two errors in the original story. Looney did not show Powell video of her partially nude. And it was Looney, not Amos, who took the week off from work in December 2017.