COLUMBUS – The Ohio Supreme Court has refused to hear the appeal of a Hocking County man whose lawsuit against police and city officials in Alliance, Ohio was dismissed by a Stark County judge.
In August 2022, Stark County Common Pleas Judge Frank Forchione ruled against plaintiff Shane Woodgeard in his lawsuit against the Alliance Police Department, its officer Timothy Heavlin, and the Alliance city law director/prosecutor. Forchione granted summary judgment to the police defendants, and dismissed the claims against the law director.
Woodgeard appealed that ruling to Ohio’s Fifth District Court of Appeals, only to see his appeal rejected by the appellate court because he had filed it too late. He asked the Fifth District Court to reconsider this decision, but it refused to do so.
He then appealed to the state supreme court. In an announcement issued Tuesday, that court included Woodgeard’s case on a list of appeals not accepted for review.
In April 2021 Woodgeard had filed suit in Hocking County Common Pleas Court, alleging that Heavlin had harassed him by phone for several months beginning in April 2019. Heavlin’s complaint claimed the officer would call him, not identify himself, and make threatening and insulting comments in a “silly/psychotic voice.”
Woodgeard also claimed that after he reported the alleged phone harassment to local authorities, Heavlin filed a bogus criminal charge against him that ended up being dismissed. His lawsuit sought $750,000 in damages.
Heavlin’s attorney got the case transferred to Stark County Common Pleas Court. Woodgeard then filed a new lawsuit, in which he added the Alliance city prosecutor/law director as a defendant.
Officials in Alliance have acknowledged in court documents that Heavlin did make anonymous, provoking phone calls to Woodgeard, trying to disguise his voice in some of them. They claimed, however, that he did this legitimately as part of investigating a complaint by an Alliance woman who had alleged that Woodgeard was harassing her by email, and that he had violated a protective order.
In his dismissal ruling, Judge Forchione had said that although Woodgeard “might not have like Heavlin’s tactics,” he had not shown that the officer had acted in bad faith, recklessly, or maliciously, which he needed to do to establish liability on the officer’s part.
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