Councilman Robinson answers JWC lawsuit

WINNSBORO – Fairfield County wants a judge to toss a Jenkinsville Water Company lawsuit filed against the county and Councilman Neil Robinson because the litigation was improperly filed, according to court documents.


But an attorney for the water company contests the county’s request to dismiss the case, saying a witness stated that Robinson conspired with former Councilwoman Bertha Goins to defame the JWC.

Robinson and Goins “conspired to harm Jenkinsville Water Company by recruiting someone to come to a county council meeting and misrepresent that truth about the quality of Jenkinsville water,” said Columbia attorney Jeff Goodwyn, who’s representing the JWC.

Filed in April, the lawsuit against Robinson alleges civil conspiracy. A separate defamation lawsuit against Goins is still pending.

In lieu of filing a response, Fairfield County attorneys filed a motion to dismiss on May 23, stating in court papers that the JWC improperly pleaded civil conspiracy.

“In order to properly pled [sic] the claim of civil conspiracy, Plaintiff must plead special damages of which describes damages that occurred as a result of the conspiracy,” the motion states.

JWC lawyers didn’t do that, the motion continues.

The motion states civil conspiracy is “actionable” only when overt acts relating to the conspiracy cause tangible damage to the plaintiffs.

That also didn’t happen, according to court papers.

“Plaintiff alleges Neil Robinson solicited persons to speak regarding their water quality at a Fairfield County Council meeting,” the motion states. “However, the person they alleged of being solicited actually never spoke. Therefore, there could not possibly be damages resulting therefrom.”

Goodwyn disputed the county filing, stating a civil conspiracy still occurred. He said a witness testified that Robinson and Goins recruited the witness to publicly claim JWC water was tainted.

“That person originally committed to do it, and at the last minute he backed out,” Goodwyn continued. “He realized that it was wrong.”

Goodwyn said the witness was asked to bring in a sample of tainted water, but was unable to produce one.

The witness further testified he then was asked to present any bottle of dirty water and claim it came from his house, according to Goodwyn.

“That [the testimony] is what clued us in to what was going on,” he said.


Transcripts of the witness’s testimony were unavailable. Goodwyn said he plans to file a formal response to the county’s motion.

Camden attorney Tommy Morgan, who’s representing Robinson and Goins, denied that his clients worked together to produce phony water samples.

“Those allegations have no merit whatsoever, and are not supported by the record,” Morgan said.

The JWC lawsuit also asserts Fairfield County is “vicariously liable” for Robinson’s activities.

The suit against Goins states she made several public comments during government meetings, alleging tainted water. She later countersued, alleging the JWC was stifling her First Amendment free speech rights.

There have been no new updates to the Goins suit since it was reinstituted to the docket in March.

In the Robinson suit, the JWC accused the councilman of making statements that were “false, defamatory, and impugne [sic] the good reputation of the quality of its water.”

The JWC also accused Robinson of working to coerce the water company to consolidate with other Fairfield County water providers.

Fairfield’s motion to dismiss doesn’t reference efforts to consolidate water services, instead insisting the improperly filed lawsuit warrants its dismissal.

“Defendants pray the Complaint against these Defendants be dismissed in its entirety,” the motion states. “Further, Defendants pray for such other and further relief as this Court may deem just and proper under the circumstances.”

Morgan said the motion to dismiss is “on solid legal grounds,” and his clients will continue to seek to swiftly end the litigation.

“We believe the second lawsuit is nothing more than a continuation of the first lawsuit,” Morgan said. “Our motion to dismiss is based on the applicable statute of limitations. This lawsuit is without merit.”

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