No damages awarded in Painter defamation lawsuit
BATON ROUGE - Murphy Painter, the former head of the state Alcohol Tobacco Control office, did not win any damages in his defamation lawsuit Friday against a former employee he blamed for his dismissal.
A federal jury returned the decision Friday afternoon in Painter's suit against Kelli Suire, his former assistant who claimed in court Painter stalked and harassed her during their time at the ATC.
Painter resigned from his position during an investigation he used state databases to run background checks on Suire and others for reasons unrelated to his job. A jury later cleared him of any wrongdoing.
In 2011 Painter sued Suire, saying she lied in order to get him fired. In October a federal jury found Suire did act maliciously when she said in state court Painter "constantly" made sexual comments about her and that she feared for her life. The state settled that case, but Painter and Suire had agreed to separate the liability and damages into two trials.
Suire's attorney, Jill Craft, said by choosing to award no damages on Friday the jury decided her client did not defame Painter.