LITTLE ROCK — A lawsuit accusing state Treasurer Dennis Milligan and his chief of staff of damaging the reputation of a former employee of Milligan’s office is going to mediation.

LITTLE ROCK — A lawsuit accusing state Treasurer Dennis Milligan and his chief of staff of damaging the reputation of a former employee of Milligan’s office is going to mediation.


At the start of what was scheduled to be a 10 a.m. hearing in the case Monday, an attorney for plaintiff David Singer told Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen that the parties had agreed Monday to seek to resolve the suit through mediation.


Singer, whom Milligan fired as outreach manager on April 27, alleges in his suit that Milligan’s chief of staff, Jim Harris, made slanderous and defamatory statements about Singer’s mental health that led to his firing.


The suit originally was filed May 28 against Harris alone, as an individual, but Singer amended the complaint Friday to add Milligan as a defendant, individually and in his capacity as state treasurer.


The amended complaint notes that on the day the suit was filed, Milligan issued a statement declaring that the allegations were untrue and that Harris had "acted in his official capacity as chief of staff."


"The treasurer’s statement placed the full majesty and power of the state of Arkansas in support of these terrible allegations," the amended complaint states.


Singer initially was asking for damages in excess of $500,000, but his amended complaint asks for damages in excess of $1 million.


Milligan and Harris were not present in court Tuesday. Lucien Gillham, an attorney representing Singer, told Griffen that he was told Milligan was undergoing surgery for "some sort of medical issue."


Griffen asked Gillham, "So why am I having a hearing?"


"Well, basically, that came in late yesterday afternoon," Gillham said.


"My phone works all night," Griffen said. "There is an answering machine on it that keeps recording. I’ve been at the office since 8:30 this morning. Nobody called me and said, ‘Judge, you don’t need to have a hearing.’"


Gillham apologized for not giving Griffen advance notice that there was no need for the hearing. Assistant Attorney General Patricia Bell, representing Milligan and Harris, also apologized.


Griffen told the lawyers, in what he said was a quote from boxer Leon Spinks, "Don’t be sorry. Just don’t do it no more."


Gillham told reporters he hoped the remediation would "address the issues with Mr. Singer’s reputation."


Asked if Singer wants his job back, Gillham said, "That is a possibility."


When contacted later by phone, Harris referred questions to the state attorney general’s office. Judd Deere, spokesman for Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, said he had no details about Milligan’s medical issue.


The agreement to go to mediation made it unnecessary for Milligan and Harris to be in court Tuesday, Deere said.