Thoma Files $4 Million Lawsuit Against City, Kirkpatrick - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Thoma Files $4 Million Lawsuit Against City, Kirkpatrick

SPOKANE, Wash. - Former Spokane Police Sergeant Brad Thoma's Attorney, Bob Dunn filed a $4 million lawsuit Tuesday against the City of Spokane and former Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick.

The lawsuit was for wrongful discharge for what Dunn says is a violation of the American Disabilities Act, and his belief that the city and the former chief did not work with his client to accommodate his disability of alcoholism.

Dunn had said that he would wait until Wednesday to file the suit if the city would work with him to reach a settlement before then, but following a unanimous city council decision rejecting a potential settlement last night, it became clear to him that they were not interested in an agreement.

"Based on the vote last night there's no indication that they want to get this matter resolved, so we're going to go head and file it," Dunn said Tuesday.

Thoma, a 20-year veteran of the Spokane Police Department, was fired back in 2009 for leaving the scene of an accident, under the influence of alcohol. Dunn told KHQ's Alex Rozier Tuesday that his client was not being treated for alcoholism prior to the crash but the incident served as a reality check that he needed to get help.

"The worst person trying to diagnose himself if you've got a disability or a disease is the patient and that's where he was," Dunn said.

Representatives with the city said Tuesday that they will not make a comment on the case until they have a chance to re-evaluate it with the new factors that have come into play early this week. City officials said that their evaluation will include the new lawsuit filed and the grievance issued by the police guild last week.

Dunn said that the city did not know of Thoma's problems with alcohol until the crash took place, but they surely knew of it before he was fired.

"They knew that because there was a medical report provided to them before he was prosecuted for drunk driving and leaving the scene of an accident," Dunn said. 

Dunn said because of that the city had an obligation to accommodate the fact that "he had a disease, a disability of alcoholism."

Over the past few days Dunn has watched as the public has expressed their frustration about the case and he said their anger is misplaced.

"The folks that are angry about this whole issue don't want to accept the fact that the medical community has designated alcoholism as a disease. Then they're angry that there's a law that alcoholism is a recognized disability." Dunn said. "I'm just a lawyer implementing the law and I believe in this case that alcoholism is a disease and I'm relying on the medical community for my conclusions."

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