Approximately 15 months after she was accused of waiving statutory fees on late tax payments on behalf of family and friends, Hamilton County Chief Deputy Treasurer Kim Good has filed a defamation lawsuit against her accuser, Susan Byer.
Good, of Cicero, is represented by Mario Massillamany, a partner in the firm Massillamany Jeter & Carson LLP.
Byer, of Arcadia, had been an employee with the Hamilton County Treasurer’s Office for 13 years prior to being fired in March 2018. According to a formal complaint from Massillamany Jeter & Carson, Byer “was frequently and consistently disciplined for violating office policies and work rules such as distracting the attention of others, shouting, demonstrating/causing a disruption in the workplace, unauthorized overtime, disobeying a reasonable order of a supervisor to perform assigned work, refusing to comply with written or verbal instructions, negligently handling of funds, and falsifying county tax records.”
Byer then filed a wrongful termination lawsuit on Nov. 14, 2018, which alleges she was fired for threatening to uncover a criminal enterprise in which Good waived fees on late tax payments for her family members.
After Byer’s accusations were made, Brent Eaton, the prosecuting attorney for Hancock County, found there was insufficient evidence to prove Good waived the late fees. Good wasn’t charged with a crime, but the wrongful termination lawsuit will move forward. A trial is scheduled for October.
Good is pursuing monetary damages against Byer for defamation. Good filed to run for Hamilton County Treasurer Jan. 6.
“Our claim is malice and that Susan did this on purpose to defame and hurt Kim Good,” Massillamany said. “Our allegations are (Susan) was wanting to run for treasurer herself, and this was a way of taking down one of her opponents.”
Massillamany said shortly after the lawsuit was filed, Byer filed to run for Hamilton County Clerk Treasurer.
Massillamany said the lawsuit can take nine months to a year. The next step is awaiting Byer’s response to the allegations. Byer has 30 days from the file date of Jan. 28 to respond.
“We will be waiting to see what Susan’s response is,” Massillamany said. “I think this is a really good case for us. We hope one of the things it does is it makes people think twice before making statements that aren’t actually accurate or truthful. This is completely and utterly politically motivated.”
Byer, however, said the lawsuit is politically motivated.
“This is a political lawsuit filed by a career politician and her political consultant lawyer,” Byer said.
Byer’s lawyer, Tim Stoesz, said the lawsuit was filed before Byer decided to run for office.
“It was done because she was fired for reporting Kim Good’s favoritism toward her parents,” Stoesz said. “Susan has zero political motivation behind the filing of her lawsuit.”
Good has worked as the county’s chief deputy treasurer for the past eight years. Prior to that, she was elected to the position of treasurer in 2004 and served until 2012.