Michigan Chief Sues for Wrongful Termination

A Michigan fire chief who was wrongly accused of criminal misconduct and terminated, has filed suit against a township alleging defamation, malicious prosecution, and retaliation for testifying in an earlier case.

Marquette Township fire chief Bob Sims was suspended last December and terminated in February, 2015. He was accused of misconduct related to the purchase of a bus and the disposal of tires belonging to the township. Criminal charges were filed by the Marquette County Sheriff’s Office, but later dismissed when prosecutors concluded no crimes actually occurred.

Chief Sims claims that his problems with the township began shortly after he testified in a lawsuit on behalf of a former township employee who claimed discrimination and a hostile work environment. His suit was filed in Marquette County Circuit Court, and names the township, Township Supervisor Dennis Liimatta and Township Manager Randy Girard.

The complaint includes six counts:

  • breach of implied employment contract
  • discharge against public policy
  • defamation
  • intentional infliction of emotional distress
  • malicious prosecution, and
  • retaliation in violation of the Michigan Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act.

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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