Judge denies deposition for former QDC director
District Judge Jeff Fletcher dismissed a petition by former Quitman Development Corporation (QDC) Executive Director Denea Hudman to depose Quitman Mayor Randy Dunn. Hudman sought the deposition to investigate potential claims in anticipation of a lawsuit.
Fletcher said there was no need for the petition because what it sought would be covered in the “discovery” portion of a possible lawsuit by Hudman.
“File your lawsuit, pay your fees and get after it,” Fletcher told attorneys.
The anticipated lawsuits are against Dunn, the QDC and the City of Quitman. Hudman was the executive director of the QDC for over five years serving as an independent contractor. The petition stated Dunn unlawfully violated Hudman’s right to privacy by accessing her private e-mail account and she further believes the mayor may have unlawfully disseminated her private e-mails along with other private and personal information.
In April, Dunn told the Wood County Monitor, “As mayor, I have a responsibility to make sure that city property, including city computers, are used for the purposes for which the taxpayer intends. The city believes that it and the QDC treated Denea fairly under the circumstances and reacted appropriately to the facts.”
Hudman claimed an invasion of her common law right to privacy as well as violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Stored Communication Act.
In February, Hudman was terminated by the QDC executive board. According to the petition, Hudman understands her termination was as a result of an unfounded claim she received commission payments on commercial projects within the city of Quitman through her partnership with JBRPM, LLC doing business as Colonial Realty and Development.
Hudman was informed of her termination at a QDC executive board special meeting. On Feb. 27 the QDC voted to end her independent contractor agreement. The petition states that at a regularly scheduled board meeting of the QDC Dunn produced a string of e-mails and a financial spreadsheet from Hudman’s private “gmail” account.
The e-mails produced were communications between Hudman, her attorney John Miller and business partner Jamie Wyatt. Dunn was not a recipient of those e-mails. Hudman claims the e-mails were private property and many were privileged attorney-client communications.
During the board meeting Hudman claims various board members expressed to her Dunn had stated he was “not proud of what he had done” and he had spent “hours” looking through her private e-mail.
The petition claimed the full extent of the information and correspondence obtained by Dunn is not known. Among the personal and private items contained on Hudman’s gmail account were her personal and business banking information, bank statements, account numbers, credit card information, social security numbers for her and her family members, private family medical information and private correspondence regarding her husband’s military service.
The e-mail was the primary account used for Hudman’s business communications and transactions with regard to Colonial. The petition claims Dunn had unfettered access to Hudman’s business correspondence with clients, potential clients, offering memoranda and financials from commercial property transactions, confidential information regarding negotiations with clients in real estate transactions, as well as communications with her Colonial business partner Jamie Wyatt.