A former Pulaski County employee has filed a tort claim against the county commissioners, attorney and auditor, claiming the officials slandered and defamed her. According to the claim that was served to the officials at the regular meeting of the county commissioners last night, Sandra Hurd served as the county home superintendent for five years before being discharged by the commissioners under suspicion of fraud.
The claim indicates that Hurd discovered she may have been making a clerical error in reporting information to a state agency in July 2013, and she then contacted the state agency to learn the process of correcting her error. It then claims that on July 24, Commissioner Tracy Shorter became aware of the clerical error and investigated whether or not Hurd was committing fraud. Shortly afterward, the claim states, Hurd filed paperwork with the state agency to self-report and correct her error.
However, the tort claim indicates that Hurd was suspended from her job for 10 days on Aug. 15, and Commissioner Tracy Shorter then “appointed herself” superintendent of the county home while stating that Hurd would be reinstated if she only committed a clerical error.
The claim goes on to state that the commissioners received information from the state agency that explained Hurd did not commit fraud, just a clerical error. The commissioners then reportedly employed a firm to investigate certain allegations and accusations. Following that, the claim states, Hurd was discharged from her duties on Aug. 27, and was allegedly told by County Attorney Kevin Tankersley that she was not entitled to an appeal of the decision.
Shorter notified the Indiana State Police, according to the claim, and their investigation into the matter did not result in criminal charges being filed against Hurd. Likewise, the Pulaski County Prosecutor’s Office did not pursue a criminal case filing.
The claim goes on to assert that the officials acted together to slander and defame Hurd’s reputation and character, that she was wrongfully discharged, that a false police report for theft had been filed with the Indiana State Police, and that the officials have “done nothing to publicly correct or repair the erroneous and malicious impression that their actions created.”
As a result, the claim states that the officials have caused Hurd damages in the sum of $500,000.
A similar complaint was filed individually against Commissioner Tracey Shorter, alleging she committed defamation, slander, and libel against Hurd, as well as invasion of privacy by false light. Hurd’s counsel, Steven M. Bush, requested a trial by jury.
When presented with the tort claim at their regular meeting, both the commissioners and the county attorney declined to make a comment. Click the links below to view copies of both filings.