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Lexington-Richland District 5 School Board and Kim Murphy end legal dispute

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The long legal battle between the Lexington-Richland District 5 School Board and former board member Kim Murphy is finally over.

And nobody won.

While there has been no settlement, the case has been removed from the court docket, according to the school district’s attorney.

Attorneys reached an agreement on April 29 to drop the case using a South Carolina courts rule that removes it from the docket, but allows either side to reinstate it at any time within a year. Sources familiar with the litigation say there’s no expectation that the case would be reinstated by either side.

“The dismissal of the Kim Murphy litigation was a procedural stipulation by both parties to remove the case from the trial docket,” John Reagle, the district’s attorney, said in a statement. “Potentially, the case could be reinstated pursuant to Court Rules. Because of that, it is not appropriate to further discuss the case, and there is no settlement agreement.”

The school board was seeking $10 million in compensation from Murphy, contending that her legal actions resulted in costly delays in renovations at Chapin High School. Her opposition was based on the negative environmental impact she felt the building plan would have on the site.

“The filing on the docket was a procedural stipulation by both parties to remove the case from the docket,” Paul Porter, Murphy’s attorney, said in a statement issued in response to Free Times‘ request for comment. “The parties could reinstate the case pursuant to Court Rules. Because of that, it would not be appropriate for me to delve further into the case right now.”

Murphy declined to comment.

Last year, the school board sought to settle the long, contentious legal battle by agreeing to drop the $10 million claim if she agreed to not file any further legal actions against the district. Murphy did not agree to that settlement.

As the litigation continued, both parties finally came to the procedural agreement just weeks before the trial was scheduled to begin.

The legal dispute started in 2013 after the school board voted to remove Murphy, who was often at odds with the board majority, from office. The board sought the removal after determining she lived in Lexington County and was not eligible to serve in the district’s Richland County seat, to which she was first elected in 2010.

Murphy fought that finding, contending that she is a legal resident of Richland County, where she is a registered voter. But the courts later upheld her removal.

As the legal battles proceeded, Murphy has continued to attend school board meetings, often raising questions during the public comment period about the district’s spending practices.

She has lots of critics, but she also has some supporters in the community, who consider her an activist for causes that would benefit the school district in the long run.

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