I-TEAM: Judge rules on Burke County lead poisoning case

Published: Jul. 14, 2021 at 7:29 PM EDT
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BURKE COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - A judge issues the first big ruling in a lead poisoning case involving a former Burke County deputy. This comes after the I-Team exposed test results detecting high levels of lead in and outside of the gun range that’s located inside the Burke County Sheriff Office. In his ruling, the judge denied a request to shut down the indoor gun range until the lead levels were under control.

That request came from former deputy James Hollingsworth.

The I-Team introduced you to James Hollingsworth in May. Medical records show he has battled he is battling lead poisoning which has taken a toll on his body in a few short years. He believes working as a gun instructor at the range made him sick.

We were in court when his attorney asked the judge to grant a temporary restraining order which would require the sheriff to shut down the range, remediate the contamination prior to reopening, and to notify all affected personnel of the lead contamination.

“What we are asking for is to clean up the place give notice to the other employees and the incarcerated workers have them tested,” said the plaintiff attorney.

“Sheriff says well I am closing this thing down and shuts the range down. He has notified employees they’ve been tested,” said the defense attorney. “It’s all moot. He’s a good guy he doesn’t want that stuff on the property.”

Hollingsworth attorneys argued irreparable harm to Burke County Sheriff Office personnel and the public in absence of an injunction – but in the end, the judge didn’t see it the same. The court is going to deny the motion for an injunction.

In his ruling, the judge denied Hollingsworth’s request because he is no longer an employee of the Burke County Sheriff’s Office and has no reason to enter the firing range. The judge also noted no class action is currently filed in the case.

Hollingsworth was let go from his job he believes as retribution for alerting the sheriff’s office to the lead contamination. He has also filed a whistleblower case. At least one other employee has tested positive for lead. Court documents also show the sheriff denies the range is still in use.

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