Under the Dome

Suit against David Parker and Democratic Party dismissed

A defamation suit brought against former state Democratic Chairman David Parker and the state Democratic Party has been dismissed.

The suit had been brought by Adriadn Ortega, a former Democratic Party staffer, in June 2012, who claimed he had been defamed by public comments regarding his allegations that he had been sexually harassed. Superior Court Judge Howard Manning dismissed Ortega's defamation claims against all defendants on June 5 and give Ortega 30 days to appeal. Instead, Ortega's counsel filed a voluntary notice of dismissal on July 2. The dismissal was filed "without prejudice" which means that Ortega an re-filed the suit within a year.

The dismissal is the latest development in case that drew negative national attention to the state Democratic Party at a time when North Carolina was a battleground state.

After he was fired in November 2011, Ortega wrote a letter to the Democratic Party and filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming he was fired in retaliation for his complaints about sexual harassment against the party's then executive director, Jay Parmley. Parmley denied making any such advances. Ortega asked for severance agreement and later signed an out-of court settlement.

When word of the settlement leaked to the news media in April 2012, it caused a storm of controversy and Republican charges of a coverup. It was at a news conference in which he defended his handling at the case, that Ortega alleged that Parker violated the confidentiality agreement and made false statements about Ortega.

Ortega filed suit asking for punitive damages in excess of $10,000, court expenses and attorney fees, a public apology, a trial by jury and a declaratory that the party comply with the terms of the settlement. The suit was handled initiatially by Kieran Shanahan, who is Crime Control Secretary in the administration of Gov. Pat McCrory. It was later handled by his law partner John Branch.


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