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Former Planning Director files federal lawsuit against city of DeFuniak Springs

Nov 8th, 2012 | 0

By BRUCE COLLIER

Former DeFuniak Springs Planning Director Greg Scoville has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida alleging various violations of his constitutional rights, arising out of his dismissal for refusing to submit to a random drug test. The action was filed Oct. 31, with Scoville as sole plaintiff and the City of DeFuniak Springs as sole defendant. Scoville is represented by attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The 11-page complaint is brought under Title 42, Sec. 1983 of the United States Code, which deals with civil actions for deprivation of rights, specifically under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States. The complaint alleges that the city’s Drug Free Workplace Policy “subjects its employees to several types of drug testing schemes, including suspicionless, random drug testing,” and is applied “to all employees without regard to their position.”

According to the complaint, in 2010 Scoville had signed a copy of the policy, acknowledging that he had received it and agreeing to comply with it, as “a condition of employment.” In September 2012, “Scoville was selected to undergo a random drug test.” The “only reason” for the request was “because he had been randomly selected” pursuant to the policy. The complaint further states that Scoville refused on the ground that it was a violation of his constitutional rights. In refusing, Scoville gave the city written reasons, including the nature of his employment, which “did not involve safety sensitive tasks, which placed him or others in immediate and direct physical danger.” Scoville also attached articles and press releases referring to random drug testing mandates and case law in Florida.

Scoville was suspended without pay and shortly thereafter his employment was terminated because he had refused to submit to the test. The complaint alleges that his termination continues to cause injury, including loss of seniority and status, lost income, retirement benefits, and damage to his “professional name, credibility and re-employability….”

The complaint concludes asking the court to issue an order “declaring the City’s Random Drug Testing Policy…violates, facially and as-applied, the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution….” and that the city be permanently enjoined from enforcing it against Scoville. It also asks that the city be required to reinstate Scoville as Planning Director with any back payments, retirement, seniority, etc. that he would have had but for the dismissal.

The complaint also asks the court to order compensation for “lost income, benefits, and retirement and any other additional sums necessary to make [Scoville] whole,” as well as damages for violation of his constitutional rights, and “reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs” incurred in bringing the action.

The Herald Breeze contacted City Attorney Clayton Adkinson for comment, but had not heard back from him by press time.

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