Durham lawsuit contends his ouster was unconstitutional

Former state Rep. Jeremy Durham filed a federal lawsuit Monday contending his ouster from the state House was unconstitutional and the state should still provide him his pension and health insurance, reports The Tennessean.

“As the direct and proximate result of his improper and unauthorized expulsion, (Durham) has lost his lifetime health insurance benefits and has been so informed by the state’s Benefits Administration Division,” the lawsuit states

Director of Legislative Administration Connie Ridley, Department of Finance and Administration Larry Martin and state Treasurer David Lillard are named as defendants in the lawsuit.

Durham was expelled from the legislature last September when the Tennessee General Assembly convened for a special session over an issue related to federal highway funding. The lawsuit argues the session was focused on highway funding, not Durham’s expulsion. Therefore, ousting him falls outside the purview of what the legislature was allowed to take up during the special session, the lawsuit states. 

Durham’s ouster by a 70-2 (House) vote came months before he would become eligible for state pension and health benefits.

…Durham’s attorney Bill Harbison said… “The principle involved is just the simple principle of due process… Everybody is entitled to due process of law and he lost his benefits through a process that was unconstitutional. We’re asking the court to require the state to enforce the plain language of the state Constitution.”

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