XENIA — A Jamestown Township man Feb. 9 filed a $1.6 million federal lawsuit against the City of Xenia, six former and current city council members and a current and former Xenia police officer.
Virgil Vaduva claims the city violated his civil rights, specifically the first and 14th amendments and the Civil Rights Act, Title 42 when it passed an ordinance restricting panhandling “in all but extremely limited areas” Feb. 13, 2015.
He names as defendants the City of Xenia, Mayor Marsha Bayless, Council President Mike Engle, council members Wes Smith and Jeanne Mills, former council members Josh Long and John Caupp and police Sgt. Jeff Osburn and former Capt. Dave Pazynski.
According to the lawsuit, Vaduva attempted to challenge the ordinance by panhandling in front of the then-City Hall building on North Detroit Street by collecting donations for a charity and using a sign which indicated he was taking collections to help and feed the poor.
The lawsuit said Vaduva was approached by Osburn and Pazynski, and was informed about the ordinance. Vaduva was later issued a citation for violating the ordinance.
The lawsuit claims the charge was “made with utter and wanton disregard for the law and the legal and Constitutional rights of Vaduva, intentionally, with malice aforethought, without a warrant and without probable cause or legal authorization.”
Vaduva was found guilty March 26, 2015 but won an appeal and ultimately had the case dismissed, according to the lawsuit.
Vaduva is asking for $600,000 in compensatory damages, emotional trauma, distress, humiliation, expenses in defending himself, and other damages. He is also seeking $1 million in punitive damages, in addition to attorney fees, and other costs.
Through his attorney, Charles E. McFarland, Vaduva is requesting a jury trial.
Vaduva had no comment other than to say justice will prevail. City Manager Brent Merriman declined comment because he has not yet seen the lawsuit.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.