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The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • States Attorney files motion to dismiss Fort suit

  • Saline County States Attorney Mike Henshaw, through his counsel, has filed a motion to dismiss the suit filed against him by Todd Fort.
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  • Saline County States Attorney Mike Henshaw, through his counsel, has filed a motion to dismiss the suit filed against him by Todd Fort.
    Fort is the ex-Chief Deputy for Saline County and was convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a minor, a 17 year old female working in the Saline County Sheriffs Office in a clerical capacity. Fort's suit alleges that Henshaw released copies of Fort's phone conservations from the Jackson County Jail (where Fort was incarcerated) in a malicious manner, with the intent to cause emotional distress to Fort. Fort's suit asks punitive damages not less then $100,000.
    Henshaw, who is being represented by the Illinois Attorney Generals Office, contends that the suit should be dismissed because Henshaw is entitled to absolute immunity, sovereign immunity and public official immunity. Henshaw also contends that Fort's suit was not "timely filed."
    Absolute immunity contends that Henshaw responded to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by a media outlet and Henshaw had no choice but to obey the law and — once determining that release of this information did not violate any statutes — had no options but to release copies of the conversations.
    The reference to sovereign immunity applies "in an action naming a State employee as a defendant where the impact on the State makes it, for all practical purposes, a suit against the State." As Henshaw is the States Attorney Of Saline County and as such is a state employee he "is entitled to the protection of Sovereign Immunity."
    In public official immunity, Henshaw maintains that because he was acting in a manner falling within his "official discretion," the doctrine of public immunity — which is based on the need for public officials to make discretionary decisions based on their best perception of public needs and not fear liability in the course of making these decisions — applies to this case.
    In Henshaw's contention that Fort's suit was not "timely filed," Illinois law holds that, under the rule of discovery, "a cause of action accrues when a plaintiff knows or reasonably should know of an injury and that the injury was wrongfully caused." Henshaw maintains that Fort alleges that the tapes were released on Feb. 12, 2012. Fort did not file suit against Henshaw until June 20, 2013, some 16 or more months after the tapes were released on a media outlet website.
    When reached for comment, Fort stated that he would be meeting with his lawyer next week to go over the motion.
    "This is pretty much the standard thing in these situations and we were expecting it," Fort said.
    When contacted, Mike Henshaw declined comment, stating all the information available at this time was in the court documents relating the motion to dismiss.
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