Levi works in the tower

Friday, February 3, 2012

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

The Lewisburg man who's suing Marshall County - largely because it doesn't have long-term disability insurance coverage for the gunshot wound to his foot when he was a deputy - is now working in the county jail.

Corrections Officer Greg Levi has been assigned to the tower since Dec. 12, Sheriff Norman Dalton said when asked on Jan. 27 about conditions at the jail because of his annual report to county commissioners. Correctional officers working in the tower oversee inmates, answer phone calls and various other light duties.

Levi became disabled in December 2010 when his service handgun fell and a point of a triangular flag box went between the trigger and trigger guard, causing it to discharge, he's said. He walks with a limp now, sought to return to duty as a deputy, but was denied by Sheriff Norman Dalton.

"He was offered a job as a dispatcher when one came open," Dalton said a week ago today. "He said he didn't know anything about computers for dispatch, like he didn't feel like he could do that. Then he was offered as a CO (correctional officer) and he didn't want to go there. Then he was offered a job as a CO in the tower where he doesn't have to have any interaction with the prisoners. He accepted and started Dec. 12."

Ten days later, former Bedford County Sheriff Clay Parker, now a self-employed attorney in Shelbyville, filed a civil suit on behalf of Levi in Marshall County Circuit Court against the county and the sheriff, asking for compensation for damages of $300,000.

"I took a substantial pay cut to come over here" to work at the jail instead of the law enforcement side of the department run by the sheriff, said Levi. "I started at the bottom of the pay scale."

Levi's allegations are denied by the county, as represented by Nashville attorney Brandt McMillan and co-counsel Robyn B. Williams on Jan. 19.

The county wants the case dismissed. Levi explains his accidental shooting happened when he thought his Glock brand service pistol was properly seated in a new holster. It wasn't. It fell and he said he'd not received proper training on how to use the holster.

McMillan and Williams said the holster isn't complicated and Levi received the written manufacturer's directions when the holster was issued, the county's now-former lawyers wrote.

"The defense of the county is in the process of being transferred to Nashville Attorney Mark Downton," McMillan said when asked about developments in the case. "Beyond that I have no comment."

Several attempts to contact Downton have been unsuccessful.

Parker was available.

"The problem is that Marshall County has opted-out of workers comp to something else," Parker said. "What they have does not include long-term disability benefits. The insurance carrier they do have does not have long-term disability benefits. Somebody has to be responsible for what happened to him.

"He has a long-term disability," Parker said. "As far as him working in the tower, they gave him a job that's within his restrictions.

"We just need to find out who's responsible" for the difference in pay, he said. "Nobody's come forward to say they'll take care of this. The alternative is to ask a judge to rule.

"You can't have somebody get hurt on the job and not pay. That's un-American.

"I was a firearms instructor for years," the former sheriff said. "You make sure they're competent with the equipment they're given...

"The lawsuit will go away if somebody would step up and say they'll take care of it."

Asked if Levi would settle for a pay rate like what he had when he was a deputy, Parker replied, "I don't know that would go over well with the other COs. We'll consider anything that's offered.

"The county chose to have this insurance," the lawyer said. "Ultimately, I'd say it's the county. We're not talking about a zillion dollars."