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Judge rules against former deputy in Taser suit

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A federal judge has ruled in favor of the Hamilton County sheriff and other officials in a former employee’s lawsuit filed after the employee was fired for refusing to be shocked by a Taser as part of a training session.

Ray Robert worked in law enforcement for nearly 30 years. He began working as a civil deputy process server for the sheriff’s department after his retirement. This was an at-will position. Hamilton County Sheriff Douglas Carter instituted a policy in 2008 requiring all civil deputy process servers to carry Tasers and also required that anyone who would carry one must receive a single one-to-five second exposure to the Taser.

Robert refused, claiming he had a back condition that would not allow it. The sheriff’s department offered him a control room position with similar pay and hours, but the job did not include a department car and other related benefits. Robert eventually declined the job and was fired.

Robert filed his suit, Ray F. Robert v. Douglas G. Carter, individually and in his capacity of Sheriff of Hamilton County, Ind., Hamilton County Council and Hamilton County Board of Commissioners, No. 1:09-CV-0425, in April 2009 in the Southern District of Indiana. U.S. Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment May 3.

Robert claimed the defendants failed to exempt him from the Taser training or to provide him with a reasonable accommodation in violation of his rights under the American with Disabilities Act and that his employment was terminated without a hearing in violation of his procedural and substantive due process rights.

Judge Magnus-Stinson found Robert’s inability to participate in the training and consequently his inability to use a Taser rendered him unable to perform his essential job functions, so he didn’t meet the threshold requirement for ADA protection. The Taser exposure requirement, as determined by Sheriff Carter, is essential to the role of civil deputy process server.

The District Court also found that the accommodation Robert received – a position in the control room – was reasonable and Robert doesn’t have the right under the ADA to refuse a reasonable accommodation simply because it was not the one he preferred.

Also, because he was an at-will employee, Robert had no property interest in his employment and therefore no right to a hearing. Robert also didn’t raise an issue of fact sufficient to give rise to a substantive due process claim, wrote Judge Magnus-Stinson.

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  • Safety
    It seems to me that there were other avenues that could have been explored here, like the fact that even Taser warns there are risks associated with it, such as heart failure, etc. I assume the Sheriff doesn't require deputies who carry guns to get shot in the leg to know what it feels like. So requiring everybody to do something that carries with it a risk of serious bodily injury or death as a condition of employment seem luicrous.

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  1. He TIL team,please zap this comment too since it was merely marking a scammer and not reflecting on the story. Thanks, happy Monday, keep up the fine work.

  2. You just need my social security number sent to your Gmail account to process then loan, right? Beware scammers indeed.

  3. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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