Jul. 21—A former chief of the Wagener Fire Department has sued the current mayor of Wagener for defamation, claiming the elected official made false oral and written statements about him.
Attorney Robert Thuss filed the lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiff, Mark Redd, in the South Carolina Second Judicial Circuit's Court of Common Pleas earlier this month.
The defendant is Mike Miller.
According to the suit, Miller's allegedly false statements "impeached the honesty, integrity and reputation" of Redd "and exposed him to public contempt, ridicule and disgrace or caused him to be shunned."
Those statements also "injured" Redd's "reputation in the community" and "discredit his years of service as a volunteer firefighter."
In addition, according to the legal action, Miller "insinuated" that Redd "stole, misappropriated funds and committed crimes." That caused "embarrassment, humiliation (and) mental anguish as a result of the injury to his (Redd's) reputation."
The suit stated that the comments made by Miller were included in newspaper stories and television reports.
Late in 2020, Redd and Assistant Fire Chief George Day were suspended and later fired.
Redd's lawsuit criticizes how Miller and the other members of the Wagener Town Council went about relieving them of their duties.
It accuses them of violating the Freedom of Information Act during a special meeting.
The legal action also claims that a story about the suspensions, which was posted on the Town of Wagener's website, contained false information.
There also was a post about the suspensions on the Town of Wagener's Facebook page, according to the lawsuit.
The legal action asks the court to award Redd "general damages, special damages, punitive damages, attorney fees, costs of the action, injunctive relief" and any "further relief that the court deems just and proper."
When asked by the Aiken Standard about the suit, Thuss declined to comment.
Miller also declined to comment, saying July 20 that he had received legal advice not to say anything until he had been served (received a copy of the lawsuit by legal delivery).
Redd and Day are the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against the Town of Wagener last year.
The legal action claims the town violated the Freedom of Information Act in multiple ways during a process that led to their suspension and subsequent termination.
Also in 2021, Day sued the Town of Wagener and Miller in his official role as mayor and "individually."
According to that lawsuit, Miller and Wagener Town Council, "by and through Miller, on several occasions made false oral and written statements that impeached the honesty, integrity and reputation of Day."