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October 18, 2017

Highway Department lawsuit settled 


Tracey Wolfe
Grainger Today Editor 

GREENEVILLE – A lawsuit filed against Grainger County and Grainger County Highway Department Superintendent Jimmy Renfro by a former Grainger County Highway Department employee in April 2015 has been settled.  

The suit, filed in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Greenville, was filed by Martin C. Nicely, alleged Nicely’s employment with the highway department was terminated in violation of his rights under the First and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution.  

Nicely claimed he was fired in retaliation for his support of Renfro’s opponent in the May 6, 2014 Republican primary.  

Nicely reportedly underwent surgery for a shoulder injury he incurred while on a job site and was unable to work from March 4 to April 21, 2014.  

He was then reportedly released to return to work on a temporary, transitional basis. Renfro allegedly told him he could not return to work while under a medical restriction.  

Nicely was reportedly released from medical restriction and able to return to work in July 2014, but alleged he was told by Renfro, “I can’t have you working for me when you were just working against me (in the election).”  

Nicely’s employment was allegedly then terminated, and the separation notice he was given reportedly stated “employee/supervisor differences.” 

The lawsuit sought compensation for lost wages, front pay, lost benefits, humiliation and embarrassment, emotional pain and suffering, medical bills that might arise as a result of his losing his health insurance and litigation costs, expenses and attorney’s fees. He is also sought punitive damages against Renfro.  

A notice of settlement was filed in court September 15. The dollar amount reached in the settlement was not disclosed.  

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