Former parks director wins defamation suit

Published 8:03 am Friday, March 27, 2009

Alan Nogiec, former Isle of Wight parks and recreation director, was awarded $150,000 in a lawsuit for defamation against Assistant County Administrator Patrick Small and $45,000 from the county for breach of contract. The ruling came Monday from a circuit court jury.

Nogiec retired in March 2007 after serving as director of parks and recreation for 28 years. During that tenure, Nogiec was in charge of the Isle of Wight Museum. The museum was flooded with four feet of water from an October 2006 nor’easter. The flooding soaked two exhibits as well as many artifacts and records located on the museum’s bottom floor.

The lawsuit against Small stemmed from comments made by Small during a board of supervisors meeting in May 2007. Small had stated that neither the board nor the county administrator had been informed by staff about the museum’s potential for flooding even though, according to Small, the former director of parks and recreation had been informed of such by museum staff on more than one occasion.

Nogiec filed the lawsuit against the county for not taking out negative memos regarding job performance from his personnel file, as it had agreed to do in March 2007.

According to a Daily Press article from Tuesday, the Isle of Wight legal team said an appeal is “highly likely.”

“The next step is a follow-up hearing on April 17,” said county spokesman Don Robertson. The hearing will address some post-trial motions related to matters that came up at the first hearing.

There is the possibility that one or two of the jury’s verdicts could be set aside, said Robertson, who also said that it is too early in the process to determine where the funds would be drawn from.

Nogiec and Small could not reached for comment.