Abbeville lawsuit moves from state to federal court

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ABBEVILLE, Ala. (WDHN) — The lawsuit between Abbeville’s city council and Police Chief Noel Vanlandingham is moving from state to federal court.

Court documents show where the City of Abbeville recently filed a notice to move the case from the Henry County Circuit Court to the United States District Court.

“Based on some questions of law, they believe we invoke federal jurisdiction,” Vanlandingham’s attorney, Dustin Fowler said. “Therefore, they removed it to federal court.”

Fowler told WDHN the move will not affect the case.

“It means that we’re just in a different court,” Fowler said. “We’re going to litigate forward just as we were in state court.”

The latest notice comes after nearly two months of conflict between the city (specifically the city council) and the police chief.

Trouble began in May after the city council voted to suspend Vanlandingham for ten days without pay for insubordination. The police chief went before the council to appeal the suspension, but was unsuccessful. At the time, Abbeville’s mayor told WDHN the suspension would mark the end of the ordeal.

“If he is suspended, then he’ll be suspended for ten days and he’ll be back at work,” Abbeville Mayor Billy Helms said in June. “As far as I know, there’ll be no further action on it.”

Despite the lawsuit, Vanlandingham continues to serve as Abbeville’s police chief and plans to respond to the latest notice.

“Officer Vanlandingham is professional and I have no doubt he’ll act in a professional capacity,” Fowler said. “We’re going to file a response to their motion to dismiss.”

WDHN reached out to Mayor Helms, the city’s attorney, and Abbeville’s city clerk, but all refused to comment.

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