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April 17, 2024

McDonough County, Sheriff, In His Individual Capacity, Facing Federal Lawsuit –

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On March 22, 2024

McDonough Co. (ECWd) –

McDonough County and its Sheriff in his individual capacity, Nicholas Petitgout, have been named in a Federal lawsuit alleging the following.

  • Count I -Violation of 1st Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America
  • Count II – Violation of the Drivers’ Privacy Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2721 et seq
  • Count III – Tortious Interference with a Contract
  • Count IV – Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED
  • Count V – False Light Invasion of Privacy
  • Count VI – Claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983: Monell Claim: Defendants Petitgout and McDonough County

“This Complaint contains six (6) counts related to the ongoing efforts of Defendant NICHOLAS PETITGOUT (Hereinafter “Petitgout”), Sheriff of McDonough County Illinois to deprive EVAN SCHMALSHOF (hereinafter “Evan”) of his right of free speech guaranteed to him under the 1st Amendment. As part of Petitgout’s overall scheme to harass Evan out of his free speech rights, Petitgout has systematically oppressed Evan in a variety of ways. As part of Petitgout’s scheme and artifice to harass Evan, Petitgout engaged in the following: A) suspended Evan from lawful employment under a pretext of his purported violation of a policy of employment when in fact Evan followed the policy and procedures adopted by Petitgout; B) improperly used the Law Enforcement Data System (LEADS) to obtain use and disclose personal information concerning and belonging to Plaintiffs; C) knowing of Evan’s contractual relationship with the Village of Blandinsville, interfered with Evan’s employment contract as the Blandinsville Police Chief by prohibiting him from delivering up criminal defendants at the McDonough County jail under the color of state authority, when in fact no such authority exists; D) interfered with Evan’s statutory rights to obtain information pursuant to the federal and Illinois Freedom of Information Acts by commanding county employees to use electronic devices intended to delete public records.” (complaint)

Petitgout is the Sheriff whose office violated FOIA and tried to play games regarding blocking people on the Facebook page of the Sheriff among other things.  We covered that in this article several months ago.

Petitgout is also named in a recent multiple-count civil case to include allegations of Monell liability under 42 U.S.C. 1983 (Failure to Train),(Custom, Policy, and Practice), Wrongful Death, Survival Action, and Indemnification.  A copy of the lawsuit can be downloaded at this link.

What makes this case unique is the fact it names Petigout in his individual capacity which could prevent him from using taxpayer resources to defend his actions.

What we look forward to in this case is Discovery.  Some of the allegations, if true, are going to be very problematic as it relates to public record retention laws and transparency.  We will update on this case as it moves through the courts.

A copy of the complaint can be viewed below or downloaded at this link.

Schmalshof Complaint Filed

 

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