Price files new motion in federal suit

Dylan Lightfoot Staff Writer

September 6, 2013

Ashe County Commissioner Gerald Price on Aug. 30 filed a motion to strike a defendants’ motion to dismiss in his federal suit against Ashe County Sheriff James Williams and two deputies.

Filed with the U.S. District Court in Statesville, Price’s latest motion was made in response to a July 18, motion to dismiss filed by attorneys for Williams and deputies Jerry D. Lewis and Randy M. Lewis.

Williams, Lewis and Lewis, and five other defendants were named in Price’s May 30, 2013, suit seeking $7.5 million in damages for alleged civil rights violations in connection with the repossession of Price’s car in October 2012.

In his motion to strike, Price — who is representing himself in the suit — claims the defendants’ motion to dismiss admits “every allegation made against them,” and that their “own filings testify against them.”

Price’s motion criticizes the defendants’ counsel for a “lame attempt at gaming the court,” and includes an attached court order to be signed by a judge, calling the motion to dismiss “…an insufficient defense, redundant, immaterial, impertinent, scandalous matter…”

Price’s May 30 suit requested a jury trial to settle a dispute involving a 2007 Toyota Camry he alleges was taken unlawfully from the driveway of his Creston home Oct. 26, 2012.

Williams, Lewis and Lewis are being sued by Price for allegedly violating his 4th, 5th, 7th and 14th amendment rights, and acting “without valid warrant or jurisdiction” in carrying out a repossession order from Watauga County Clerk of Court Diane C. Deal.

Deal, along with Watauga attorneys Michael Vetro, Joseph Thompson IV, Amanda K. Moore and Christina C. Hughart, were also named as defendants in the suit, which seeks $1.5 million for each of five counts of violation of Price’s constitutional rights, plus punitive damages to be decided by a jury.

Price alleges in his suit these defendants “brought a sham legal proceeding” against him when they awarded the Toyota to Citifinancial Auto, who held the loan on the car, in an Oct. 16, 2012, arbitration hearing.

A District Court judge ruled Oct. 15 that Price’s dispute with Citifinancial would go to trial, a decision upheld by the Chief District Court Judge Alexander Lyerly Nov. 14.

According to arbitration documents, Price made no payments on the car after February 2012, and attempted to discharge the delinquent loan with a check for $13,817.46, which was returned “unable to locate account.”

Attorney Chris Raab, counsel for Williams and his deputies, said Friday Price’s Aug. 30 motion was without legal foundation and should be denied. “We will file a brief response next week,” he said.

Diane Deal is represented by the N.C. Attorney General’s Office. Noelle Talley, public information officer for the AGO, on Friday reported no new filings or updates to report in the case.

Attempts to reach Price for comment were unsuccessful.