Ex-sheriff's employee files suit

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A former employee of the Putnam County Sheriff's Department has filed suit in United States District Court against the Putnam County Commissioners, the sheriff's department and former Sheriff Mark Frisbie.

Terrie J. Mark, who worked as an administration deputy at the department from July 15, 1999 until she was fired on Jan. 4, 2007, has retained the services of Indianapolis-based attorney Amy DeBrota in the case. A complaint for damages and jury demand accuses the defendants of "retaliatory termination in violation of the Family Medical Leave Act."

According to court documents, Mark provided a physician's certification and other paperwork showing that she would require medical leave time for reconstructive knee surgery and recuperation time from Sept. 29, 2006 until Jan. 2, 2007.

"On Dec. 4, 2006, while on medical leave, Plaintiff received a phone call from Putnam County Sheriff's Office employee Becky Wallace, who asked her to come into the office and speak with Frisbie," the complaint said. "Upon her arrival, Frisbie accused Plaintiff of handing out flyers for Tom Helmer, Frisbie's election opponent. When Plaintiff denied doing so, Frisbie called her untrustworthy and a liar and then told her to leave his office."

Court documents said Mark returned to work on Jan. 2, 2007, and that in a meeting two days later attended by Mark, Frisbie, Wallace and Putnam County Jail Commander Steve Fenwick, "Frisbie once again accused Plaintiff of passing out flyers for Frisbie's election opponent and told her that she was a liar for not admitting this allegation."

During this meeting, Mark was terminated. Mark's complaint alleges:

* Defendants failed to reinstate Mark to her position, instead terminating her in retaliation for taking medical leave and previous assertion of her FMLA rights.

* Mark's termination was in violation of her FMLA rights.

* The actions of the defendants were "intentional, willful, malicious and done in reckless disregard of Plaintiff's legal rights under the FMLA."

* Mark suffered economic damages as a direct result of the unlawful actions of the defendants.

* Mark was fired for attempting to exercise her rights under the FMLA and the First and Fourteenth amendments to the Constitution.

* Frisbie's beliefs about Mark's political activities were a substantial factor in his decision to fire her.

* Frisbie tried to prevent Mark from exercising her right to free speech and her rights under the FMLA.

* Frisbie's actions were "intentional, knowing, willful and in reckless disregard for Indiana and federal law, and these actions caused Plaintiff to suffer economic and emotional damages."

Mark is requesting reinstatement to her position, as well as salary and seniority level to which she would have been entitled had she not been terminated, or front pay in lieu of reinstatement.

She is also seeking all wages and economic benefits lost due to her firing, compensatory damages, punitive damages, lost future earnings, all costs and attorney fees, pre- and post-judgment interest and all other legal and equitable relief to which she may be entitled.

Putnam County Attorney Scott Hoff said the complaint had been forwarded to the county's insurance company for review, and that the defendants had no comment at this time.

No court dates have been set in the case.

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  • Lawsuit 1 of ### ... MANY!

    Rumor has it that many of the administrative deputies were let go this week with the new administration. How many of them will file suit against the county?

    -- Posted by jorge on Tue, Sep 9, 2008, at 12:13 AM
  • Is anyone surprised that this is happening? Heard this happened at the time but didn't believe it. jorge is right, there is more to come. Not only from this last group but several others under Frisbie's command.

    -- Posted by mad-mom on Tue, Sep 9, 2008, at 6:19 AM
  • Of course there will be lawsuits ! Isn't that typical of people in this town? Always trying to get something for nothing. If she was handing out Helmer flyers, which I think is the true side of the story myself, then what does she expect? Come on use your head !! Why didn't she bring these charges forward before now ?? EXACTLY ! Is someone seeing an opportunity here?? Opportunists are everywhere, obviously in Greencastle.

    -- Posted by mindmyownbusiness on Tue, Sep 9, 2008, at 7:19 AM
  • Frisbie was well aware of this lawsuit several months ago. This is not a process that happens overnight or in a couple of months. I know first hand the hardships she has faced. For someone to suggest she is trying to get something for nothing, maybe you should put yourself in her position then make your uneducated commets.

    -- Posted by workingmomoftwo on Tue, Sep 9, 2008, at 8:31 AM
  • if she was well enough to hand out flyers, why couldn't she be working at the s.o.

    sounds like someone was taking advantage of the leave policy.

    common sense will not weigh in on this case!

    -- Posted by gottokno on Tue, Sep 9, 2008, at 9:06 AM
  • Frisbie seems to have, unfortunately, let the sheriff's department get in a mess. I hope Fenwick will get things straightened out. Fenwick is a good man.

    -- Posted by not gullible on Tue, Sep 9, 2008, at 9:43 AM
  • One thing about lawsuits, is that the attorney attempts to name everyone he can think of to put in the suit, whether directly involved or not. They probably picked the Commissioners because they are considered the County Executive and had to be included because they have the insurance coverage.

    -- Posted by hoosierpete on Tue, Sep 9, 2008, at 10:12 AM
  • I agree with "tired", Fenwick seems to be a follower. As for firing everyone else, it appears he already has, on Sunday, no less. God help this county if he brings his family in! I for one am tired of Putnam County looking like a bunch of ridiculous losers!

    -- Posted by twosense on Tue, Sep 9, 2008, at 11:19 AM
  • Sounds like another case coming up, the person who wrote about other mistakes being made by the commissioners right on, its been happening for years, maybe someone will catch up with them also, Frisbie isn't the only one who has done wrong in this county, go vote in November, lets clean out the nest in the courthouse as well. Sounds like our new sheriff is making a few errors himself, he won't last long.

    -- Posted by whatno_guessing on Tue, Sep 9, 2008, at 11:33 AM
  • I want to congratulate Steve Fenwick, I know you will succeed at your new position! CONGRATS!!!

    -- Posted by didisaythat? on Tue, Sep 9, 2008, at 11:37 AM
  • Why is it ok for Fenwick to come in and fire all of the current front office people?? Maybe they should all file charges against him ? He must have felt threatened.

    Terri has a history of trying to make money from other peoples misfortunes and always has a way of surfacing when an opportunity arises. Watch your backs !!

    -- Posted by mindmyownbusiness on Tue, Sep 9, 2008, at 2:23 PM
  • Got Fired in Jan 07, a year later, when all this comes out with Frisbee. Go ahead Terrie Mark Jump on the band wagon. Better yet GET A JOB! do like everyone else Work for your money quit asking for Hand outs.If it was that much of an issue WHY WAIT? I think you would file when it happened. If it did. my hat goes off to Fenwick.

    -- Posted by Sand mann on Tue, Sep 9, 2008, at 2:24 PM
  • While I am not defending her, I don't think you would see a salesman at a Chevy dealership passing out flyers to buy a Ford.

    Also, I believe in Indiana you do not have to show cause to dismiss anyone. you can fire them without any reason. This sounds like opportunity and a greedy lawyer coming together for a case

    -- Posted by albert on Tue, Sep 9, 2008, at 2:44 PM
  • Maybe you need to get the facts, victory04 and mindmyownbusiness. This was filed a couple of months after she was fired. This is all public record. Read up on the facts. Jump on the band wagon what the? If you really knew what was going on then you would know she did no jumping it was more like pushing. All she really wants is her job back and paid back for all of the time she should have been working. Is that any more than you would do if you thought you were wronged?

    What makes you think she is not employed? Get a life, it sounds like you have too much time on your hands.

    -- Posted by workingmomoftwo on Tue, Sep 9, 2008, at 3:08 PM
  • Walk a mile in someone esle's shoes before you pass judgement...lawsuits take time. I am almost embarassed to live in a county where people are so small minded and ignorant.

    -- Posted by citizenoftheworld on Tue, Sep 9, 2008, at 3:47 PM
  • Good one trapper.

    -- Posted by mad-mom on Tue, Sep 9, 2008, at 6:32 PM
  • uneducated? but i can spell comments!!!!!!!

    -- Posted by gottokno on Tue, Sep 9, 2008, at 9:06 PM
  • this whole county is crooked wake up and smell the coffee you have to vote all the incumbants out, at least after eight years or it will never be over with this good ole boy network

    -- Posted by ricky bobby on Tue, Sep 9, 2008, at 10:45 PM
  • O.k. now lets go and proof every "comment" to make sure there are no mistakes in spelling or grammer. Is that what this is about? I think not. Is that the best you can come up with? Lets get on the topic. Good luck Terrie!!!

    -- Posted by workingmomoftwo on Wed, Sep 10, 2008, at 7:30 AM
  • I hope she wins; would serve them right.

    -- Posted by picture nut on Wed, Sep 10, 2008, at 10:55 AM

    -- Posted by Michele1953 on Wed, Sep 10, 2008, at 6:15 PM
  • Do any of you wonder why the complaint was automatically forwarded to the Insurance company for review? I'm thinking "BIG" settlement. You go girl!!!!

    -- Posted by whodouthinkur on Thu, Sep 11, 2008, at 7:13 AM
  • wow

    -- Posted by TiredofThisTown on Thu, Sep 11, 2008, at 7:30 AM
  • Go,T.J.!!!!!

    -- Posted by kubotafan on Fri, Sep 12, 2008, at 5:33 AM
  • If she was handing out flyers and was fired because of this then she has every right to sue. In Indiana you do not have to give a reason for termination, on the other hand if you do give reason then this will make you open game for lawsuit. I think she was fired for not being on the Frisbie bandwagon. Since when did everyone love all of their co workers anyway? As long as she was NOT ON DUTY, who cares who she supports.

    -- Posted by WTFRUthinkin on Fri, Sep 12, 2008, at 2:20 PM
  • I may have to jump on this bandwagon. I was fired as well in violation of the FMLA, doctors notes mean excused absences, of course unless they want us to work and put an entire jail at risk of being sick as well. That poor jail is all messed up. It will never again be the same, that is until Thomas Helmer or Miller gets in there and does some serious rearranging. Much love putnam county, you're gonna be needin it to deal with Fenwick!

    -- Posted by cmg071580 on Wed, Sep 24, 2008, at 8:17 AM
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