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Woman files suit in case of Martinez home entry

Posted: November 6, 2012 - 5:09pm  |  Updated: November 6, 2012 - 5:12pm


A woman has filed a lawsuit against Columbia County and the former Code Compliance officer who admitted entering her Martinez home without permission.

Erica Masters, who now lives in the Atlanta area, filed the civil suit Tuesday afternoon in Columbia County State Court seeking $300,000 plus court costs for physical and emotional distress she suffered when Jimmy Vowell entered her unlocked home July 2.

Masters is seeking a jury trial.

“It is unfortunate that the county, who has no culpability or liability in my opinion, gets hit from two sides and the taxpayers have to defend both,” said Columbia County Administrator Scott Johnson in response to the suit’s filing.

Vowell, who was fired shortly after the incident, was at Masters’ home to deliver a violation notice from a neighbor’s complaint that her yard was unkempt and overgrown. He claimed at the time that he entered the home only after knocking repeatedly and calling out, and that he smelled something from inside when the unlocked door swung open.

Masters’ home had a surveillance system, and a video of the incident showed Vowell walking through the home and standing in her bedroom doorway. She said she awakened to find Vowell talking to her from the hall, and that he retreated to her living room and waited there while she dressed.

After Vowell delivered the county ordinance violation notice, he left the home and Masters tried to call Vowell’s supervisor with Code Compliance but was unable to reach anyone. She then called 911 and, when she told the dispatcher she was uncertain whether she needed Vowell’s supervisor or a deputy, the dispatcher took her information for Code Enforcement to contact her.

Johnson suspended Vowell and then contacted the sheriff’s office. An investigator interviewed Masters and Vowell and reviewed the surveillance footage. Vowell was not charged because, officials said, there was no criminal intent in his entry of the home.

However, because the entry was a violation of department policy, Vowell was fired.

Vowell since has appealed his termination to the county’s Civil Service board, which determined the firing was “too excessive.” He is appealing to county commissioners for reinstatement, Johnson said.


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Comments (3)


You go girlfriends

We need some accountability from the CC government. Of course, we the taxpayers will continue to pay for their "mistakes and over sites". A la the rain tax. But that is the way the game is played. They make the decisions, we pay the bills. Lets all gather at the Antebellum Arena, park in the Kroger parking lot, get drunk and drive home lucky.


$300,000.00??? Really??

$300,000.00??? Really?? Isn't that a bit much? Was she injured during this? I'm sure this will get settled out of court...

Little Lamb

Home Entry

She wasn't injured, but she was violated.