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Fired Cumberland County Deputy Wins Civil Rights Case

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FAYETTEVILLE — The jury found that the deputy's freedom of speech was violated and awardedhim more than $7 million dollars. Taxpayers could be liable for about athird of it, if the award survives legal challenges.

"It was a great day for me," said Scottie Worrell, fired deputy. "I'm notgoing to lie about that."

Worrell can't say enough about the federal jury that agreed with him inWilmington.

Back in 1991, Worrell was a lieutenant, heading up the sheriff's specialoperations unit. The sheriff then, Morris Bedsole fired him, citinginsubordination. Worrell said Bedsole fired him because he kept pushingfor more manpower and equipment.

Worrell filed suit, on the basis of freedom of speech. The jury handed hima victory and a big award. He was awarded $281,000 in compensatory damagesand $500,000 in punitive damages. But, Worrell says vindication is moreimportant than the money.

Bedsole nor his attorney could be reached for comment, but an attorney forCumberland County said motions will be filed, asking the judge to overturnthe verdict. If that effort fails, expect to see the case end up before afederal court of appeals.