Gentry Finally Files Million Dollar Lawsuit On City

By Greg Ritchie

Messenger Reporter

CROCKETT –  The City of Crockett was served with a one million dollar lawsuit by attorneys for CEIDC (Crockett Economic and Industrial Development Corporation) Executive Director James Gentry, barely a month after being returned to work after his year-and-a-half paid administrative leave. 

The lawsuit, which The Messenger reported at the time, was originally released to the public August 10, 2023, but was curiously never filed with the courts. The lawsuit actually appears to be for a million, billion dollars, as the figure is written as one million, but the dollar figure in numbers is written as one billion. The paperwork was originally sent to us by Gentry’s Houston-based attorney, Carroll Robinson.  

The suit states Gentry was illegally harmed when the city suspended the board, since he was negotiating a five-year renewal of his employment contract and could not continue that since the board’s activities were suspended. Gentry is suing for the potential value of that five-year extension which was not able to be concluded. 

The suit also calls for damages from those negotiations, along with, “the libel, slander and defamation inflicted on his personal and personal reputations by the unlawful actions of the Defendants; and the emotional distress and mental anguish he has suffered.”

The suit also claims Gentry is entitled to any and all attorney’s fees and court costs as per the terms of his employment agreement. The suit mentions the council meeting in early January 2023, when CEIDC operations were suspended, citing this and wide media coverage of the event as intended to harm Mr. Gentry’s reputation.

The suit comes after Gentry was put back to work in a council meeting Tuesday, May 28. Sources tell The Messenger Gentry has not returned to the CEIDC office, and there are no reports of what, if any work, he has done on behalf of the city during this time. Gentry continued to receive his sizable salary during the suspension, and continues to be paid. 

While The Messenger checked in from time to time since last August to see if the suit had ever actually been filed, the question must be asked, Why now?

James Gentry

To many observers, the move seems calculated to ensure a large payout to Gentry will be made, one way or the other. The timing of the suit seems to coincide with a majority on the city council who support Gentry and will make sure to vote to settle the lawsuit. 

Failing that, the council members voting to return Gentry to CEIDC are looking to request a special meeting, according to sources, to make a new employment contract for Gentry, one with a similar large payout, which will no doubt lead to his firing or resigning, and receiving the money, all the same. 

The focus on making sure one member of the city staff receives a large amount of money, in spite of his apparent unwillingness to return to the work he was hired for, is baffling.

Will the majority of the Crockett city council vote to take a million dollars from streets, sewers and other projects to give to Gentry, who never missed a paycheck during his administrative leave? Only time will tell. 

Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]

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