County attorney says case will be ‘vigorously defended’
By Josh Mitchell
Corinth Today News Editor
A registered nurse who worked at the Alcorn County Jail for six years has sued the county and the man who serves as warden, court records show.
Jail Warden Joshua Davis is being sued in his individual capacity, not in his official role as warden.
The plaintiff, Andrette Lee Holder, “refused to participate in fraud being committed by others at the Alcorn County Regional Correctional Facility,” the lawsuit asserts.
A doctor at the jail was turning in timesheets that showed work that was not being performed, the suit alleges.
Bill Davis, the attorney for the Alcorn County Board of Supervisors, said he could not comment since it is pending litigation other than to say the “case will be vigorously defended.”
Alcorn County Sheriff Ben Caldwell also said he could not comment on any lawsuits.
The lawsuit was originally only filed against Joshua Davis in April but was amended last month to include Alcorn County as the jail owner and operator.
The lawsuit alleges that jail management was angry at Holder for reporting and refusing to take part in fraud at the jail.
“Warden Joshua Davis said ‘everyone has a price except you,’” the lawsuit charges.
Holder claims that management was looking for ways to “fire her in retaliation” and that she was subjected to “daily harassment,” the lawsuit, which is filed in Alcorn County Circuit Court, says.
“The office manager constantly urged (Holder) to quit,” it adds.
Holder said she reported her concerns about the doctor’s timesheets to Warden Davis and the office manager. She said she could not sign the timesheets because they were incorrect, the lawsuit says.
“She said she felt it was criminal fraud against the government to falsely report time not worked and receive payment for it,” the lawsuit asserts.
The doctor stopped returning the nurse’s phone calls about patients, it adds.
Holder says she reported to the Mississippi Department of Corrections “that her own own work and payment was being misrepresented by the facility in order to obtain greater reimbursements than they were actually getting.”
The lawsuit alleges that the jail’s chief of security told Holder that, “Warden Davis and ‘someone higher up’ (meaning Sheriff Caldwell) did not appreciate her standing up for what she believed was right.”
The chief of security also told Holder that, “You need to cover your ass, cross your T’s and dot your I’s because they are looking for a reason to get rid of you,” the lawsuit says.
Warden Davis sent Holder a text message saying there were to be no trips to the emergency room if an inmate was conscious and breathing, the suit adds.
When Holder approached the warden about sending an inmate to the emergency room or to Parchman on a non-scheduled transport, he answered, “let the son-of-a-b—- lay back there and die,” the lawsuit alleges.
Holder was given her first formal write-up in six years of employment on May 17 “for a matter of no real consequence,” the suit says.
Holder was told numerous times that she could receive about $11,000 in unused sick time if she quit but would not get the money if she were fired, the lawsuit says.
Holder went to Sheriff Caldwell’s office and said she was not trying to be difficult by refusing to sign the doctor’s timesheets, it adds.
The lawsuit alleges that Caldwell responded in a sarcastic tone, saying, “Well we certainly wouldn’t want you to break the law, now would we.”
Caldwell also accused Holder of throwing the doctor and warden “‘under the bus,’” the suit says.
Due to the sheriff’s response and the “constant harassment” at the jail, Holder was a “nervous wreck and unable to continue working,” the lawsuit says, adding that she resigned and was not paid for her unused sick time.
“Defendants violated the law by constructively discharging plaintiff in retaliation for her reporting or refusing to participate in a crime,” the lawsuit says.
It also says the defendants violated the law by “harassing” Holder and constructively discharging her “in bad faith and with malice.”
Holder’s lawsuit seeks a judgment that the actions of the warden and the county violated the law. She also seeks back wages, compensation for emotional distress and other relief as the court deems appropriate.
Holder is represented by attorney Joel Dillard of Jackson, Miss.