Rotruck sues Town of Summerfield

* Accuses town manager, town attorney of “vigilante-like actions”
* Seeks writ “commanding Summerfield to reverse actions of Whitaker and Hill”

* Seeks “punitive damages … in an amount to be determined at trial”

By Kevin Spradlin

Previous coverage
* See the full 13-page lawsuit (PDF)
* April 23: Rotruck denied seat at council table
* April 18: Town attorney: Rotruck’s seat is vacant
* April 17: Board of Elections rules Rotruck does not live in Summerfield

Todd Rotruck has filed a lawsuit against the Town of Summerfield seeking temporary and preliminary injunctive relief after being told during a hastily scheduled public meeting on Tuesday that he was no longer a member of the Summerfield Town Council.

Todd Rotruck

Todd Rotruck

The Guilford County Board of Elections voted 4-0 on April 17 to “correct” Rotruck’s voter registration to a Greensboro address. According to interpretations of state law by William “Bill” Hill, Summerfield’s town attorney, and County Attorney Mark Payne, among others, that vote made Rotruck’s immediately ineligible to serve on the council. Accordingly, Hill subsequently declared to Summerfield Mayor Gail Dunham and members of the council that Rotruck’s seat was vacant.

On Thursday, town officials were served a copy of the suit filed in Guilford County Superior Court on Rotruck’s behalf by Winston-Salem attorney D. Marsh Prause, of the firm Allman, Spray, Davis, Leggett & Crumpler. The suit claims the town, and by extension the actions of Whitaker and Hill, were tantamount to “violating Rotruck’s constitutional rights and the laws of the State of North Carolina.”

In the suit, Rotruck accused Hill and Whitaker of taking steps to:

* Remove Rotruck from the official Town of Summerfield letterhead;
* Remove Rotruck’s name and contact information from the town website;
* Remove Rotruck’s chair and name plate from the council seating area during a public meeting;
* Remove Rotruck from what were otherwise council-wide emails;
* Threated Rotruck with arrest and forcible removal from a public meeting.

“In absence of action by the council, neither Whitaker nor Hill had any authority to declare Rotruck’s seat on the council to be vacant,” the lawsuit claims.

Rotruck indicated in the suit that his position is supported by North Carolina Generate Statute 128-6, which mandates that Rotruck “shall be held, deemed, and taken, by force of such admission, to be rightfully in such office until, by judicial sentence, upon a proper proceeding, he shall be ousted therefrom.”

Hill and Whitaker, Rotruck claims in the suit, “take it upon themselves to officiously serve as judge, jury, and executioner, conclusively determining among themselves that Rotruck has ceased to reside in the electoral district he was elected to represent, and proceeding to remove him from his elected office on that basis, all contrary to his due process rights under the constitutions of the United States and the State of North Carolina.”

The suit also claims the April 23 special call meeting was “illegally convened” because Rotruck was not permitted to participate, and wants the town — and Whitaker and Hill, specifically — to be ordered to not take any further action that indicates Rotruck is not a member of the council until the courts weigh in on the suit and Rotruck’s apparently inevitable appeal.

Rotruck had 10 days from the April 17 Board of Elections hearing to file an appeal with Guilford County Superior Court. At this time, it is not known whether or not Rotruck has filed an appeal.



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