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Judge tosses claims against Robert Bentley in lawsuit filed by his former security chief

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Gov. Robert Bentley (R-Alabama)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A Montgomery judge has thrown out all the claims against former Gov. Robert Bentley in a much-talked about lawsuit filed by Ray Lewis, the ex-chief of his security detail.

Lewis, who provided plenty of information to the House Judiciary Committee’s special counsel in the impeachment investigation of Bentley, filed the lawsuit in November.

The lawsuit included a number of claims cited by the special counsel’s report that was released Friday. Those include that Lewis advised Bentley that his relationship with Rebekah Mason was wrong, that the governor could face problems if he used state resources to further the affair, that Bentley asked him to break off the relationship with Mason for him and that he sent Lewis to try and retrieve an audio tape of a racy conversation between Bentley and Mason from Bentley’s son.

The court ruled Tuesday that Lewis claims against Bentley were barred by state immunity – that the then-Governor was acting in his official capacity.

Among the complaints by Lewis was that he was placed in a “false light” by Bentley and the other defendants after Lewis’ overtime pay was publicly revealed. Lewis said Bentley had ordered the overtime for Lewis but then denied knowledge of the payments.

The court also threw out claims of defamation, invasion of privacy and interference in a business relationship against Bentley’s co-defendants, including Rebekah Mason – the ex-governor’s alleged mistress and former top political aide, her company RCM Communications, the Bentley campaign and Bentley’s nonprofit group the Alabama Council for Excellent Government, known as ACEGOV.

Circuit Judge Truman Hobbs did allow the case to proceed on one claim against the other defendants, “Intentional interference with business or contract relations.”

Lewis had alleged that one or more of the defendants interfered in his efforts to get a security job with Alabama Power or the University of Alabama.

The court said that claim can go forward, but he partially granted Mason’s request to have the case against her stayed. The court said the case could go forward with discovery – evidence gathering – but Mason could not be compelled to sit for a deposition.

The court also allowed Mason, who has told the court she could be facing possible criminal charges, to petition the court for help if she believes discovery requests by Lewis’ lawyers could infringe on her rights to defend herself in another proceeding.

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