On Thursday, Feb. 12, Superior Court Judge David Hall, issued a stay in the lawsuit brought by former Summerfield Town Councilmember Todd Rotruck against sitting Town Councilmember Dianne Laughlin – who occupies the seat Rotruck was elected to in November 2017.
The stay puts the lawsuit on hold for now and the court may lift the stay and hear the lawsuit at a later date if the judge deems it appropriate.
Rotruck was removed from the Summerfield Town Council in April 2018 after the Guilford County Board of Elections ruled that Rotruck didn’t live in Summerfield. Last October, the Town Council appointed Laughlin to fill the vacant seat despite the fact that Rotruck’s appeal had not been heard by the NC Court of Appeals. In the suit being discussed this week in Guilford County Superior Court – known as a “quo warrento” lawsuit – Rotruck was attempting to reclaim the council seat while waiting for his appeal to be heard.
While Rotruck did not get the lawsuit he was asking for, he said he was pleased that Hall was attempting to get his appeal of the residency case expedited and it now looked like there was a good possibility his case could be heard very soon. Until now, the assumption has been that it could be as late as this fall before the Court of Appeals in Raleigh got around to hearing the case.
Rotruck said the stay allows the court to leave the lawsuit on the table since Rotruck may still need to proceed with this quo warrento suit if he wins his appeal.
“Even if I win, the Town of Summerfield may still refuse to seat me,” Rotruck said.
He added that the town removed him without due process and it might continue to keep him off the council even if he wins the appeal.
Rotruck said he was pleased with the judge’s approach to the case.
“I do think he was very fair and listened to what we had to say,” he said. “He said this is very important to the public interest and that’s why he wants to see the appeal heard soon.”