A federal jury awarded $2.1 million to the heirs of a man who charged that former Lyon County Public Administrator Richard Glover stole items from their father’s estate.
The jury announced its verdict Tuesday in the suit originally filed against Lyon County and Glover in 2007 in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas.
The jury awarded damages in the amount of about $1.6 million against Lyon County, and $180,000 against Glover for emotional distress, about $217,000 in damages against both the county and Glover for stolen property and $100,000 in punitive damages against Glover.
The plaintiffs Richard, Anthony and James Mathis, charged that Glover stole property from the home of their deceased father, Joe Mathis, in Wellington, after his death in 2006.
The jury announced its verdict Nov. 10, after a five-day civil trial before U.S. District Judge Andrew Gordon.
According to the suit, Joe Mathis died May 29, 2006 at his home on Artist View Rd. in Wellington. Joe Mathis was found by Lyon County Sheriff’s deputy Abel Ortiz, who had been dispatched to the home for a welfare check on Mathis, who was 85 years old.
The suit alleges that Ortiz informed Glover of the death, and when Anthony Mathis arrived at his father’s house on June 1, 2006, he found the home ransacked and his father’s personal items such as firearms, jewelry, silver coins, military decorations and tools had been taken from the house. In addition, firearms and ammunition belonging to Richard and James Mathis had been taken.
When Anthony Mathis reported the missing items to the Lyon County Sheriff’s dispatch, he was told that Glover may have been in the home.
In the suit, Anthony Mathis charges that Glover told him he had removed a number of items from the house.
The suit charges that Glover sold some of the items and kept the proceeds for himself, and that Glover conducted a warrantless search and seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
“We don’t know what happened to it, but the jury decided to compensate the family for the property that is missing,” said attorney Brian Irvine, who represented the Mathis family. “But some of it was family heirlooms that are worth more than the monetary value and can’t be replaced.”
Lyon County Manager Jeff Page represented the county at the trial in Las Vegas.
“Lyon County holds the utmost respect for our system of justice and, in particular, the jury trial; however, Lyon County is disappointed by the jury’s decision in this case,” Page said. “Lyon County is in the process of evaluating its legal options through both post-trial motions in the United States District Court and potential appellate issues with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The evaluation process will continue over the next few weeks.”
However, in its answer to the complaint filed Aug. 8, 2007, the county denied the charges, and Glover field an answer to the complaint on Nov. 2, 2007 in which he also denied the allegations.
“This has been a very long road for the Mathis family and we were pleased we were able to get a good result with this jury,” Irvine said. “But they didn’t get what they wanted on the criminal side. They wanted Mr. Glover to be prosecuted and he wasn’t, and that’s why they filed the civil suit.
“But they wish it hadn’t had to go this way,” Irvine added. “We were hoping to close this out with the county, and we couldn’t.”
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