County asks federal court to dismiss Stone lawsuit
Dec. 18, 2012 — An attorney representing Lassen County and three members of the board of supervisors has asked a federal court judge to dismiss a $1 million wrongful termination lawsuit filed by former Lassen County Administrative Officer Tom Stone because it was filed in the wrong jurisdiction.
Sacramento attorney Kathleen Williams, representing Lassen County, District 1 Supervisor Robert Pyle, District 2 Supervisor Jim Chapman and District 5 Supervisor Jack Hanson, filed a request for judicial notice in support of a motion to dismiss the lawsuit Dec. 10. A hearing on the motion is set for 2 p.m. Jan. 24.
Lassen County Counsel Rhetta Vander Ploeg said the employment contract between Stone and the county says disputes between the parties will be settled in Lassen Superior Court.
Stone’s attorney filed the lawsuit seeking at least $1 million against the county and three members of the board of supervisors in July 2012. They filed an amended complaint Oct. 30.
The board of supervisors fired Stone July 13, 2011 with Pyle, Chapman and Hanson voting for his dismissal.
Stone alleges the suit is “based on multiple claims arising out of his employment relationship based on numerous wrongful acts including termination without cause, fraudulent inducement of employment contract, wrongful termination based on public policy and violation of Government Code Section 8547, et seq. in that a motivating factor in the decision to terminate the plaintiff was his having protested violations of federal and state law regarding the use of funds belonging to the county or from the federal government for specified purposes … plaintiff seeks damages for past and future economic loses, general damages for emotional distress because of violation of his rights and statutory attorneys’ fees.”
According to Stone’s complaint, he “was terminated for an unlawful reason, i.e. in retaliation for reporting waste, fraud, abuse of authority, violation of law and the misuse of public funds, for which he had been told he was supposed to ‘clean up’ the county finances.”
In addition, Stone alleges he was told “to disobey the law and to not be truthful by stating that the county economic development director (Hanson’s brother-in-law) was doing ‘a fine job and that shortfall in the department was due to the economic downturn.’”
Stone also alleges he was fired because of “religious discrimination” and the defendants interfered with “his family’s right of free speech and association.”
According to his complaint, Stone alleged, “Supervisor Chapman and others in county government were surprised and implied that the plaintiff had intentionally failed to disclose he was a Mormon, further implying that his religious preference should have been disclosed and further implying that he might not have been hired had supervisor Chapman known of his religious preference.”
Stone also alleges Chapman instructed him that his “wife was too politically active in the Tea Party movement, and that activity was not appropriate for the wife of the CAO.”
Stone alleges when he refused to curtail his wife’s political activism, the supervisors reprimanded him for that activity and threatened he would not retain his position if his wife remained politically active with the Tea Party.
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