Lawsuit won’t silence wife of county official

From the Tribune Chronicle:

WARREN — The wife of a county official said Wednesday she won’t let a “frivolous” defamation lawsuit filed against the couple by the Trumbull County engineer stop her from exercising her First Amendment right to free speech.

It was Heidi Nuskievicz’s third time speaking up at a Trumbull County commissioners meeting. Her wife, Trish Nuskievicz, director of the Trumbull County Planning Commission, did not attend.

“At a past commissioners meeting I read a statement in my own words. It’s called freedom of speech. I did not defame anyone,” Heidi Nuskievicz said. “If someone thinks a frivolous lawsuit against me will intimidate me and stop me from exercising my First Amendment right to free speech, you’re sadly mistaken and I hope more people will have the courage to come forward and speak out against bullies.”

Randy Smith, Trumbull County engineer, said the claims made against him are baseless.

Trish Nuskievicz is using time she has accrued and the Family Medical Leave Act to take time off for “serious health-related conditions that have been caused from working in a very hostile work environment.” Her condition is a result of “intense psychological abuse, bullying, retaliation, discrimination and general harassment brought about by the Trumbull County engineer and his associates,” Nuskievicz wrote in a letter earlier this month to Jim Shader, who resigned Monday as chairman of the planning commission board, without giving a reason or returning a message seeking comment.

Smith filed the defamation suit Monday in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court. In the suit, he claims by writing a letter to the planning board and speaking to the media about alleged bullying at his hands, the Nuskieviczes were acting maliciously to tarnish his reputation.

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