Ex-sheriff's employee files suit
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.