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Hutch: No merit in former officer's lawsuit

The Hutchinson News - 1/31/2019

Jan. 31--The city of Hutchinson denies claims by former Hutchinson Police Officer Devin Berman that the city and the department violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and retaliated against him.

Berman "was never subjected to discrimination or retaliation because of his alleged disability," the city's legal response to Berman's lawsuit stated. The claims in the suit "are entirely without merit," the city contends.

Berman said he suffers from Tourette's syndrome and "was incessantly made fun of at work by other employees." No adverse action was taken against employees even after he complained to his superiors, he claimed.

The city responded that Berman "is not entitled to recovery of back pay, front pay, compensatory damages, liquidated damages, attorney fees, litigation expenses, reinstatement, court costs, or any other type of legal or equitable relief." Also, his "claims are barred to the extent that he failed to control a controllable disability," and he "is not a qualified individual with a disability as defined by federal law."

Berman was a city employee from late 2013 to early 2018. It was Berman's decision to leave the job, Hutchinson City Manager John Deardoff said after Berman filed the lawsuit in December and claimed he was "forced to terminate his employment" with the city.

Berman said he had his first disciplinary write-up on Sept. 20, 2017, for something that occurred Aug. 28, 2017, and the discipline coincided with a complaint of discrimination that he lodged with a Hutchinson Police Department captain. The city agrees with those dates of the write-up and the August incident but denies allegations of retaliation.

The city is seeking to have the case in U.S. District Court dismissed. If the case isn't dismissed, the city wants a jury trial.

The firm of McDonald Tinker, Wichita, is representing the city. The city was given an extension to file its response and it was filed Tuesday, one day after the extended deadline.

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