RAPID CITY, South Dakota — A federal judge this week dismissed a lawsuit from a former landfill employee in Rapid City who claimed that a police detective violated his constitutional rights more than four years ago with his testimony before a grand jury.
Chief U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Viken dismissed Randall Meidinger's claim that Lt. Peter Ragnone violated his Fourth Amendment rights when he testified that Meidinger had confessed to cheating the landfill where he worked in testimony before a grand jury in 2010, the Rapid City Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1IWcfT4). Meidinger had claimed the testimony was false.
The grand jury indicted Meidinger on charges of forgery and grand theft, but a jury eventually acquitted Meidinger.
Meidinger operated the scale at the city landfill until he was fired in September 2009 after an interview with Ragnone. The officer was investigating allegations that Fish Garbage Service was cheating the landfill, dumping for free or at reduced rates by having its drivers lie about the contents of their trucks. Meidinger was accused of altering scale tickets to cut the garbage hauler breaks.
In September, Viken dismissed Meidinger's claims against Mayor Sam Kooiker, former Police Chief Steve Allender and former landfill supervisor John Leahy. But Viken said a jury should decide whether Ragnone's testimony was credible.
But Viken dismissed the lawsuit this week, citing a U.S. Supreme Court decision from 2012 gives grand jury witnesses absolute immunity.
Ragnone's attorney, John Nooney, said the court did not find his client did anything wrong.
"No one had ever found that my client did anything wrong," he said.
Meidinger can still appeal the decision.
Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com