The scenario that led to the dismissal of Bobby Carter as the attorney for the city of New Albany is both bizarre and unfortunate.
The Board of Aldermen fired him Monday, about a week after he filed what likely will become a class action lawsuit against Toyota Motor Corp. and its U.S. subsidiaries. The suit, one of many expected around the country, alleges Toyota concealed safety defects in its vehicles and should be required to pay both actual and punitive damages.
Carter said he was asked by some Alabama lawyers to handle the suit in Mississippi because of a need to have a Mississippi lawyer and a Mississippi Toyota owner as a plaintiff.
Carter said he filed the suit as part of his private law practice. The city attorney’s job in New Albany is not a full-time position.
Board members said the suit appeared to be a conflict of interest for the city, because New Albany was involved in attracting the Japanese automaker to build a plant in Union County.
We’ve had our differences with Mr. Carter in the past, but, frankly, we don’t see the conflict of interest. And Toyota has far greater issues to worry about than whose name is on a lawsuit.
That said, Mr. Carter should have known there would be intense political fallout from his handling the suit. He should have passed on it. He acknowledges a “gross political miscalculation.”
What’s done is done. Mr. Carter has been fired and the job is vacant. It was messy and certainly not handled in the best way.
But the issue now is what kind of city attorney New Albany will have.
Hopefully, the city will be able to find an attorney with knowledge of municipal law who will work cheap and not need substantial income from a busy private practice.
That’s a lot to hope for.