A nearly six-year battle waged by a fired Rapid City worker seemingly finished Friday when Chief U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Viken dismissed the guy’s promise that a police detective broken his civil rights when the policeman testified before a grand jury.
“The remaining claims have all been dismissed, as well as the case is completed,” said John Nooney, the lawyer representing Rapid City Police Lt. Peter Ragnone.
Mentioning a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision known as Rehberg v. Paulk that gives grand jury witnesses complete exemption, Viken dismissed a suit brought by Randy Meidinger in 2012 against Ragnone. Meidinger’s suit was asserting his constitutional rights were violated when Ragnone gave false testimony before the grand jury.
That grand jury indicted Meidinger on criminal charges.
“Based upon that (Rehberg v. Paulk), the court has decided that he (Ragnone) cannot be liable for anything,” Nooney said. “The United States Supreme Court said in 2012 those individuals who testified before a grand jury cannot be sued for what they did, and finally (Viken) found that that’s right.”
Based on Nooney, the court failed to find that Ragnone did anything wrong, “So everything was dismissed.”
Meidinger’s legal team members, — Paul Winter, Greg Sperlich and Angela Colbath — were disappointed in Viken’s choice. They do possess the possibility of appealing the judge’s actions Circuit Court of Appeals, however they said on Friday it was to produce a decision.
Viken’s conclusion conflicts with his and U.S. Magistrate Judge John Simko’s previous opinions that a jury should have the chance to determine if Ragnone lied to a grand jury and fabricated evidence against Meidinger, Colbath said.
A jury trial on Meidinger’s claim that Ragnone violated his Fourth Amendment rights was scheduled to begin on May 11.
Ragnone’s testimony before the grand jury in 2010 resulted in a criminal indictment for forgery and fraud . Until he was fired after an interview with Ragnone in September 2009, the scale used in the town landfill.
Ragnone was investigating claims that the landfill was being cheated by Fish Garbage Service, dumping for free by having its motorists lie regarding the contents of the trucks, or at reduced rates.
Meidinger was accused of changing scale tickets enable them to dump totally free or to cut the garbage hauler breaks.
Based upon Ragnone’s investigation, the grand jury accused of conspiring with all the garbage hauler Meidinger, however a jury exonerated Meidinger of any criminal wrongdoing. A civil lawsuit was afterwards dismissed by the city !
Criminal charges against Clifford and George Fish and three truck drivers were dismissed halfway through their criminal trial. The dad and son did finally settle a city civil lawsuit by conceding that they’d perpetrated “a string for deceptive acts” to deceive the city from tipping fees. The Fishes consented to cover the city $375,000 to settle
Meidinger’s national suit named former Landfill Supervisor John Leahy, former Police Chief Steve Allender, Mayor Sam Kooiker and former Solid Waste Manager Jerry Wright, now president of the Rapid City Council. His charge against Wright was lost, and the charges were dismissed by Viken against others.
Viken means to file a written opinion, in accordance with Meidinger’s lawyers.
Nooney said that Ragnone continues to be exonerated.
“No one had ever discovered that my client did anything wrong,” Nooney said.