Alabama Supreme Court dismisses lawsuit stemming from 2012 APT dismissals

By Dru Sefton

The Alabama Supreme Court on Sept. 27 threw out a lawsuit filed following the 2012 dismissal of two top executives from Alabama Public Television, reports the Birmingham News, ruling that the pair did not have standing to sue under the state’s Open Meetings Act.

Former APT Executive Director Allan Pizzato and Pauline Howland, former deputy director, claimed the Alabama Educational Television Commission violated the open meetings law when they were dismissed. Pizzato and Howland were fired at the commission’s June 12, 2012, meeting after commissioners went into executive session to discuss Pizzato’s “general reputation, character, and job performance.” This lawsuit was filed the next month.

An attorney for the former APT executives, Augusta Dowd, expressed disappointment at this decision. “I think the Supreme Court has absolutely annihilated the open meetings act,” she said.

Bert Jordan, an attorney for ATP, disagreed. “Pizzato and Howland were misusing the court by  trying to win public points in a personal argument with the APT Commissioners,” he told the News.

Both Pizzato and Howland have moved on. Pizzato signed on to lead WYES in New Orleans in November 2012, and Howland is a controller with the NETA Business Center.

Read a copy of the full decision here.

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