According to recent paperwork, the Polk County School District filed motions to dismiss the case and to excuse the school system from answering plaintiff Michael G. Sams’ questions or providing requested paperwork.
In turn, Sams also filed responses to both requests.
Sams, who is representing himself in the case, filed the suit Aug. 19 alleging he paid almost $25,000 to purchase, repair and restore a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro which was seized from the CHS car shop and now sits in a Polk County Police Department impound lot.
He claims in the suit that the school system failed in its responsibilities regarding students in shop class and instructor Richard Todd Haney.
Haney, 40, was one of 15 arrested in the raids last fall. Eleven suspects, including local businessmen and law enforcement officers, were charged in chop shop activities while four were arrested at roadblocks and businesses suspected of involvement in car thefts.
Haney faces charges of possession of a vehicle with an altered vehicle identification number (VIN). The case has yet to go to trial.
Sams seeks return of the car in its current condition, the full amount of his investment in the vehicle, money for depreciation of the car occurring while out in the weather, punitive damages and attorney fees.
According to new paperwork, the school system asked the court to dismiss the case on the basis the system, as all governmental entities in Georgia, has sovereign immunity.
The school system also claims it never had a contract with Sams.
Sams said in his response that sovereign immunity does not apply when a governmental entity fails to obey the law and follow specific items in the law. He also claims it doesn’t apply when there is an insurance policy to cover a claim.
Sams said in his paperwork he has verified that the system carries liability insurance through Montgomery Insurance Co.
In the paperwork, Sams said the school system failed in several areas of the law in allowing Haney to instruct shop students and also in keeping track of activities in the shop.
Specifically, he claims the school never made any inventory record of the Camaro and no one at the school ever created any type of documentation on it or inquired about it.
He said the only records on this vehicle were receipts on school stationary billing him for parts and labor.
Sams also states in paperwork the car’s VIN is unaltered and clearly visible and police department records show no evidence that the car is stolen.
While police state the vehicle has an altered VIN, Sams said the school system never investigated to see if this is true.
He also contends that no one has ever been charged or gone to trial in relation to this specific car and no state or federal official has filed any forfeiture paperwork.
Sams also filed paperwork refuting the system’s request to stop discovery in the case.
The school district said discovery wasn’t necessary for a judge to decide on whether the system can apply sovereign immunity and that the process of discovery was too expensive.
In that response, Sams said the school district needs to submit required information for a judge to consider their request for dismissal.
He also said cost shouldn’t be a factor.