NEWTON FALLS, Ohio (WKBN) – A Newton Falls man is suing Newton Falls, the city manager and another resident following comments made at a public meeting.
According to the lawsuit, Jose Angel Morales claims he was defamed twice. Once in front of city officials and residents and another time during a city council meeting. Both incidents happened last year.
Morales claims that he was involved in a community cleanup for the “tunnels” of Newton Falls in August 2020. During that cleanup, Morales claims that Roy Clouch, Jr. made a statement to the effect that Morales was an illegal Mexican immigrant working on his green card, according to the lawsuit.
Morales said that City Manager David Lynch was also at the cleanup and overheard the statement. Morales said several others at the cleanup expressed their disapproval of the comment.
At a Newton Falls City Council meeting on Aug. 17, 2020, Lynch is accused of making a similar statement referring to Morales as the “Tunnel Guy” and stated, ” He’s working on his green card we think, folks.” The comment is heard about 18 minutes and 50 seconds into the recording.
The statement was made as Lynch was recognizing those that helped clean up the tunnels.
Morales maintains that he is a U.S. citizen. He was born in Florida and graduated from Newton Falls, according to the complaint.
Morales contends that the comments were derogatory, false and defamatory and that he has been subjected to scorn and ridicule in the community and forced to change his residence, according to the complaint.
Morales is seeking at least $25,000 in damages along with court costs and attorney fees and punitive damages.
The case was filed in Trumbull County Court June 18.