By Jeff Sturgeon | A former law enforcement agent with the Department of Motor Vehicles in Lynchburg won a wrongful-termination lawsuit, back pay and a chance at reinstatement.
Anastasia Wootten, 46, a former Vinton police officer who worked at the DMV from 2011 to 2013, will collect $183,483 in back pay and lost health insurance benefits, a jury ruled Wednesday.
A clash with co-worker Jennifer Dawson, whom Wootten accused of initiating a physical encounter in a restroom, and the aftermath of that incident, led to Wootten’s firing. Wootten proved that DMV Commissioner Richard Holcomb and other agency leaders denied her a post-termination grievance hearing.
A two-day trial in federal court in Lynchburg then examined how a grievance panel — had one heard Wootten’s case — would have weighed the firing. Asked whether the firing would have been deemed justified, jurors said no and awarded Wootten money damages.
A hearing over Wootten’s possible reinstatement is scheduled for Dec. 20.
“Wootten is ecstatic with the verdict and the prospect of returning to law enforcement,” said her attorney, Paul Beers. “The charges against agent Wootten were uncommonly silly and any impartial grievance panel would have seen that.”
Lynchburg DMV office conflicts have spawned two other lawsuits that name DMV leadership. Suits by David Lee Stultz, a former state Department of Motor Vehicles special agent, and Robert Supinger, also a former DMV law enforcement officer, are pending.
A DMV spokeswoman referred questions to the office of the attorney general. A spokesman for the attorney’s general’s office referred questions to the DMV.