Home News Former Sergeant Files Another Lawsuit Against Commerical Point after Termination of Duties

Former Sergeant Files Another Lawsuit Against Commerical Point after Termination of Duties


Commercial Point – A former Sergeant of Commerical Point has filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of Ohio Court that says the Village of Commerical Point has violated his 14th amendment right and used a probationary period to remove him.

This lawsuit is not the first one against the village that Former Sergeant John Murphy III has filed. Murphy was removed previously on a six-month probationary part-time period in 2015, but the officer argued that he had been working in the village since 2006 and had long passed the probationary period, that the council simply failed to act on the confirmation or removal. Murphy shortly after being removed filed a lawsuit, after a year and a half of court and arguments, Murphy and the Village settled the lawsuit agreeing to place Murphy back on the job and pay him 80,000 dollars in back pay for the time he missed. It was ordered that Murphy be reinstated as a part-time “detective sergeant.”

Murphy returned to work and continued to serve the Village.

According to the lawsuit, things changed for him on May 18, 2021, when the Commerical Point Village Council voted to create a full-time Sergeant position and abolish a part-time Sergeant position, (Murphy’s Position). After passing the ordinance, on June 26, 2021, 43 months and 7 days of service as a part-time Sergeant for the village, the mayor offered Murphy a full-time position, but that position came with the stipulation that, “If you choose to accept this offer of employment you will be considered a probationary Police Sergeant for a period of six months.”

In the lawsuit, Murphy said that he asked the Mayor what would happen if he did not accept the offer, and the mayor stated that he would be terminated because of the part-time status. Muphy claims in the suit that he accepted the conditions, “under duress and coercion by threat of termination.”

After the 6-month probation, Commerical Point Mayor recommended that Murphy be confirmed, but Council disagreed putting the Sergeant on another 6-month probation. Six Months later in July of 2022, the mayor changed his opinion and recommended removing Sgt. Murphy from his position. During the next council meeting  Commerical Point Council voted to remove an appointed peace officer.

We asked the mayor what changed in his opinion over the last 6 months.

“During Sergeant Murphy s first probationary period, there was an incident in which he responded to a call outside of his jurisdiction without being dispatched. This incident resulted in the Pickaway County Sheriff having a meeting with our Police Chief expressing his dissatisfaction that Sergeant Murphy involved himself without being dispatched and continued to the scene after the call had been canceled. Sergeant Murphy was issued a Verbal Warning at that time by our Police Chief and instructed not to involve himself without being dispatched,” said the Mayor.

“During the second probationary period, Sergeant Murphy was not on duty with the Village of Commercial Point Police Department but was on duty with the Harrisburg Police Department. An incident occurred within the Village of Commercial Point. The Scioto Township Fire Department was dispatched to the scene. Upon arriving on the scene, Officer Murphy was already there, even though he was not on duty with the Village of Commercial Point and had not been dispatched to the scene. While there, Sergeant Murphy got into a loud verbal exchange with the Assistant Chief of the Fire Department in front of his men. This incident resulted in the Scioto Township Fire Chief having a meeting with our Police Chief expressing his dissatisfaction over what had taken place at the scene. The Fire Chef also met with me over this incident as well. Sergeant Murphy was issued a Final Warning at that time by our Police Chief and instructed once again not to involve himself in incidents without being dispatched.”

These two incidents have put a negative light on our Village Police Department with the Pickaway County Sheriffs’ office and the Scioto Township Fire Department. Our Police Department interacts with these two departments more than any other agencies. Because of that, there is no room for any dissension or tension between the departments. Unfortunately, there seems to be one common denominator in both incidents. There also appears to be a negative work pattern that has developed and cannot be allowed to continue.

For these reasons, the Mayor recommended that the Council not confirm Sergeant Murphy as a full-time police officer with the Village of Commercial Point Police Department.

During the council meeting in July Sgt. Murphy’s Lawyer reminded the council the facts that Murphy has been working for the village since 2006, that he was fired before, and got his job back after a previous probationary period, and that there were reasons Murphy responded to the calls that were outlined in the mayor’s letter.

Murphy in his lawsuit mentioned the incident that he responded to in Commerical Point while on duty in Harrisburg. In the lawsuit, Murphy said that he responded to the scene in Commerical Point because of a vehicle into a pond call, he reported being in law enforcement and being close to that area he felt he was doing his duties to respond because of the seriousness of the event.

In the lawsuit, Murphy states that Commerical Point must adhere to the general laws of Ohio and may not enact legislation contrary to existing state laws due to them not being a Charter. He also argues that when he was reappointed in 2017 after settling his last lawsuit he was appointed as a non-probationary part-time sergeant, and there is no authority expressed requiring a village police officer of the rank of Sergeant to serve another probationary period either after being promoted or undergoing working hours from part-time to fulltime.

The lawsuit also accuses the council of working outside of the council and outside of the public meeting as during July 11, 2022, meeting other than the mayor’s letter no other facts, deliberation or discussion was public before the council voted to not confirm Murphy. In the lawsuit it states

“The public was fully deprived of any reason or the facts for the vote. Defendants acted in a clear attempt to avoid the requirements of the Open Meetings Act by conducting their deliberations outside of the public meeting by their review and deliberation upon the Mayor’s July 8, 2022 letter of recommendation outside of the public meeting held on July 11, 2022 with no reasoning or public discussion of any kind. “Allowing public
bodies to avoid the requirements of the Open Meetings Act by discussing public business via serial electronic communications subverts the purpose of the act.” “R.C. §121.22 prohibits any private prearranged discussion of public business by a majority of the members of a public body regardless of whether the discussion occurs face to face, telephonically, by video conference, or electronically by e-mail, text, tweet, or other form of communication.”

Murphy’s lawsuit asks for lost wages and benefits from being removed, Compensationary damages in excess of 300,000 dollars on each applicable count of the complaint, punitive damages in excess of 500,000 dollars on each applicable count of complaint, attorney fees, and that he is reinstated again to his position as Sergeant in Commerical Point.