Defendants in Mayer lawsuit seek dismissal


A new trial date has been set and a motion to dismiss has been filed in the ongoing legal battle between former Orange Township Fiscal Officer Wesley Mayer and the township, including former Administrator Lee Bodnar.

The lawsuit against Bodnar and the Orange Township Board of Trustees was filed on Oct. 1, 2020, in Delaware County Common Pleas Court and centers on an Ohio Ethics Commission complaint filed by Bodnar against Mayer in 2019 when they were both Orange Township employees.

The OEC complaint centers around the events of Oct. 9, 2019, when Mayer, who was fiscal officer at the time, was driving a rental car on U.S. Route 23 and ran out of gas. Mayer contacted Orange Township Fire Chief Matt Noble and asked him for assistance, but Noble was unable to help, so Mayer contacted Aaron James, the township’s maintenance director. James and another township employee, Richard Spellman, brought Mayer gasoline to refuel his car.

Mayer wrote the township a check on Oct. 11, 2019, for $40 to reimburse it for any expenses.

Township trustees met for a special meeting and executive session on Oct. 10, 2019, and at the end of the meeting, Trustee Lisa Knapp made a motion to direct Bodnar to file a complaint with the Ohio Ethics Commission regarding Mayer’s calls for assistance.

Mayer lost his reelection bid in November 2019, stating in his lawsuit that the OEC filing was a contributing factor in his loss. He also alleges in the lawsuit that Bodnar and the township are guilty of defamation for damaging his reputation, and he calls Bodnar the “primary driver” behind the OEC complaint.

In March 2020, the Ohio Ethics Commission contacted the township to report it would not be investigating the incident further for several reasons, including that any potential damage was worth less than $50; that Mayer had already reimbursed the township; and that Mayer no longer held the office.

In December 2020, the trial was scheduled to begin on March 1, 2022. However, in October 2021, the case schedule was delayed after a joint motion filed by the parties, and a new pretrial hearing was scheduled for April 4 at 4 p.m., with the trial set to begin on April 19.

On Jan. 4, the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, asking Delaware County Common Pleas Judge David M. Gormley to dismiss the lawsuit for several reasons, including arguing that the lawsuit has “no specific factual allegations” against the Orange Township trustees named in the lawsuit and arguing that the Orange Township Board of Trustees is entitled to statutory immunity.

Additionally, the motion argues that defamation and infliction of emotional distress claims are not established by the facts of the case.

“While to an objective observer, the events of October 9, 2019 may indeed appear trivial and (Mayer’s) actions could easily be accepted as innocent, his actions nonetheless brought to the forefront a legitimate question as to the appropriateness of his actions,” the motion states. “There was a valid basis for the request for an ethical opinion and, while this may have resulted in inconvenience, indignity or annoyance to the (Mayer), it does not rise to the level of intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

Gormley wrote that Mayer has 28 days from Jan. 24 to respond to the motion for summary judgment.

At the end of the complaint, Mayer asks the court to award him damages in excess of $100,000 and asks for punitive damages against Bodnar and the township for $1 million, as well as attorney fees and court costs.

Bodnar left the township in 2020 to take a position as an administrator at the Delaware County Engineer’s Office.


By Glenn Battishill

[email protected]

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.

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