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Official Responds To $5M Lawsuit

According to a response filed in Halifax County Circuit Court, defendant Thomas Lewis, an investigator with the Halifax/South Boston Narcotics and Gang Unit, is seeking to have a $5.35 million lawsuit thrown out.

The lawsuit was filed by the estate of Randolph Neal Seamster Jr., and it alleges that Lewis was negligent and committed assault and battery during a July 2, 2008 incident at the Riverdale Sheetz where Seamster was fatally shot by Lewis.

In the response, Lewis’ attorney, Carlene Booth Johnson of Perry Law Firm in Dillwyn, argues, “the complaint is not sufficient in law and does not state facts upon which the relief requested can be granted for the following reasons.”

The reasons given are that the plaintiff’s assertion of wrongful death precludes all other claims in the complaint and thus the claim of negligence and assault and battery should be dismissed.

Lewis also exerts a plea of sovereign immunity in the response, claiming that at all times relevant to this situation Lewis was performing a governmental function that involved his judgment and discretion and that was not ministerial.

“Thus, even if plaintiff were to make a showing sufficient for a claim of alleged negligence against Sergeant Lewis, this action is barred from proceeding, and should be dismissed with prejudice, because sovereign immunity protects Sergeant Lewis from liability for alleged negligence,” the document states.

Lastly, Lewis asserts a plea of contributory negligence and voluntary participation in an illegal act with respect to the claims made in the lawsuit, according to the response.

Lewis’ response claims that Seamster’s estate is not entitled to damages because of “Seamster’s contributory negligence and voluntary participation in an illegal act by Seamster driving his car in such a wrongful, willful, wanton and reckless manner so as to endanger the life of Sergeant Lewis and others in the parking lot at Sheetz, and while willfully and wantonly disregarding the signals of law enforcement officers to stop and committing assault and battery on law enforcement officers.”

The plaintiff is requesting a jury trial.