Supreme Court upholds ruling involving former IOW officials

Published 8:42 am Friday, January 21, 2011

FRANKLIN—The Virginia Supreme Court has upheld a lower court’s ruling that former Isle of Wight County Assistant Administrator Patrick Small defamed the county’s retired parks and recreation director during a Board of Supervisors meeting.

“It’s been a long time, and it’s been a long process,” said Alan Nogiec, who retired in 2007 after 28 years with the county. “Obviously, it’s been a very emotional process. There’s a lot of relief and hope that it’s over.”

Small, who two years ago resigned from his county post, is now the director of Portsmouth Economic Development. He did not return a phone call from The Tidewater News.

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

The state’s high court agreed with a March 2009 verdict by an Isle of Wight Circuit Court jury that awarded Nogiec $150,000 in damages for Small’s character defamation. In a separate lawsuit, the Supreme Court overruled the lower court’s verdict that the county had breached its severance contract with Nogiec, who was awarded $50,000 in damages.

Nogiec said Thursday he hasn’t heard if Small plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We certainly hope that doesn’t happen,” he said. “I think that would be very expensive.”

Nogiec, who lives in Windsor, has started a company. He books entertainment for fairs and festivals and represents a New Castle, Pa., fireworks company.