Tom Stone files Lassen County lawsuit
Feb. 26, 2013 — Tom Stone, Lassen County’s former administrative officer, has filed his wrongful termination lawsuit in Lassen County.
The lawsuit names Lassen County District 1 Supervisor Bob Pyle, District 2 Supervisor Jim Chapman and District 5 Supervisor Jack Hanson as defendants along with Lassen County. The three supervisors voted to terminate Stone July 13, 2011. District 3 Supervisor Larry Wosick and former District 4 Supervisor Brian Dahle, who now serves in the California Assembly, voted no.
Following a second day of closed session deliberations, the board voted 3-2 to terminate Stone’s employment contract effective immediately and seek restitution of $5,758 in employee medical health benefits Stone received in error and $2,650 the county paid for a training session and transportation that was not authorized by the board.
Last month U.S. District Court Judge Morrison C. England dismissed a similar lawsuit Stone had filed in federal court because it was the “improper venue.”
The judge did not consider the facts or the merits of the case and only considered if the federal court had jurisdiction to hear the lawsuit.
In his ruling Morrison wrote, “The court finds the forum selection clause (in the contract between Stone and the county) is valid, and that venue is improper in this case. Plaintiff (Stone) has not borne his heavy burden of proving that he would be deprived of his day in court if he is required to litigate his case in Superior Court for the County of Lassen.”
According to the termination clause in the contract, any dispute between Stone and the county will be settled in a Lassen County court.
Stone alleges violations of the government code, the labor code, inducement of employment contract under false pretences, violations of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 2A of the California Constitution, slander of professional reputation and denial of due process and equal protection.
“This is an action for damages by plaintiff against his former employer based on multiple claims arising out of his employment relationship based on numerous wrongful acts including termination without cause, fraudulent inducement of employment contract, wrongful termination based on public policy and violation of Government Code Section 8547 et seq., in that a motivating factor in the decision to terminate the plaintiff was his having protested violations of federal and state law regarding the use of funds belonging to the county or from the federal government for specified purposes,” Stone’s Reno attorney, Treva Hearne, wrote. “Plaintiff further alleges he was subjected to religious discrimination and interference with his family’s right of free speech and association. Plaintiff seeks damages for past and future economic losses, general damages for emotional distress because of (the) violation of his rights and statutory attorney fees.”
According to the complaint for damages filed Jan. 29, Stone seeks more than $500,000 “for damages due and owing to plaintiff for the wrongful deprivation of his individual rights,” more than another $500,000 “for general damages” and a “declaratory judgment” that his rights were violated.
In addition, Stone seeks “compensatory damages, liquidate, exemplary damages and such other monetary relief as may be deemed appropriate in amounts to be determined at trial … pre-judgment interest as may be determined by statute and rule … costs, including reasonable attorney fees together with other such remedies provided by law … a trial by jury on all issues of fact … and, other and further relief as it (the court) deems just and proper.”
Lassen County has not yet responded to the Stone’s filing in Lassen County Superior Court.
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