Lowcountry man files lawsuit against SCDOT

Local News

Charleston, SC (WCBD) – One Lowcountry man says he was blocked from the state department of transportation’s Facebook page after he posted comments disagreeing with the agency. Now he has filed a lawsuit.

Tom Fernandez says he was frustrated about growth issues and the state of roads in Berkeley County. So he creates videos on Facebook criticizing the number of potholes and crumbling roads as well as the lack of action to fix them. “Talking about the current state of Berkeley County, how fast it’s growing, the mismanagement of its maintenance and how the infrastructure isn’t catching up with the growth.”

He uses humor to make his point. He posted video patching a pot hole with pepperoni pizzas. “And two weeks later, the SCDOT seemed to follow up with how the SCDOT patches potholes. But I left a comment disagreeing with their conduct. Disagreed on how they actually patch potholes. They deleted my comment and banned me from their Facebook page.”

So Fernandez, who is an attorney, filed a lawsuit Thursday in federal court downtown, claiming his freedom of speech was violated.

“When a government agency sets up a Facebook page, its a digital space. It’s considered much like a city park. And so when they blocked me, it is the equivalent of them discriminating against my viewpoint, violating my first amendment protections.”

The DOT spokesman would not comment, saying they never comment on pending litigation.

Fernandez says he only wants two things, “biggest thing I’m asking for is for the court to say the SCDOT did violate the first amendment… and I’m only asking for my filing fee of $400. That’s it.”

Fernandez filed the lawsuit on Thursday and the state DOT has 30 days to respond.

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