Chatham County woman suing city of Burlington for $15M over case of mistaken identity

A Chatham County woman who unsuccessfully sued the Burlington police department late last year is now suing the city of Burlington and a Burlington police captain for what she describes as “defamation by libel, reckless negligence, and negligent infliction of emotional distress” for erroneously listing her name and photo on a “Most Wanted” flyer in October 2020.

The earlier suit, filed last fall by Brandy Dawn Dixon of 79 East Carthage Street, Bennett, in southwestern Chatham County, appears to have been involuntarily dismissed last month for failure to state a claim on which relief could be granted and for allegedly failing to comply with the statute of limitations, according to that court file.

Originally, Dixon sought $1 million in damages against the Burlington police department.
Last Friday, Dixon filed a new suit, seeking $15 million in damages against the city of Burlington and Burlington police captain Mark Rascoe, for alleged “defamation by libel” and other claims.

Dixon claims to have suffered irreparable damage to her reputation and loss of job opportunities because the Burlington police department erroneously listed her as being wanted for trafficking methamphetamine on a flyer that was distributed to multiple media outlets on October 29, 2020, according to the court file.

Dixon contends in both suits that she learned of the erroneous listing in March 2021, immediately notified the police department, and Rascoe issued her a written apology, which is included in the court file.

The “most wanted” flyer included the name and photo of a Brandy Dawn Dixon, age 43; the correct individual that was being sought for trafficking meth was Brandy Dawn Dixon, age 22, who had the “same first, middle, and last name with the exact spelling,” Rascoe explained in the written apology he sent Dixon in March 2021. The police department notified all news media as soon as the error was discovered, according to Rascoe’s letter.

In her latest suit, Dixon claims that the same most wanted flyer listing her name and photo “is still to this very day easily found and viewable just by searching her name from any search engine” and that the Burlington police department’s failure to remove the listing from internet search engines “is currently publicly defaming [her] reputation and causing her severe emotional [distress] ongoing to this very day.”

Dixon notes in her suit that she is currently employed as a day care worker, and that her employer stumbled across the same “most wanted” listing during an internet search.

“Her current employer is rightfully and additionally concerned that other parents may run across the same information and would question them about her,” Dixon asserts. “This matter, although she has the apology letter, is not an Open Public Apology and her employer would have to explain this to every single parent that discovers this and were to question them about it to this very day.”

Dixon intends to represent herself for her lawsuit against the city of Burlington and the police captain, according to the court file. Neither defendant had filed a response by press time Wednesday.