Former HR police chief Ludwig files suit against city

July 20, 2011

On July 7, former Hood River City Police Chief Bruce Ludwig and his attorney, Dana Sullivan, filed a lawsuit against the City of Hood River and his former supervisor, City Manager Bob Francis, for alleged unlawful employment practices.

Ludwig's suit articulates three claims for relief and a request for total compensation in the amount of $750,000, which covers monetary relief, punitive damages and attorney's fees and costs. The city and Francis were served complaint papers July 12.

When contacted for a response to the suit, Francis stated that the city does not comment on litigation matters.

Ludwig's suit alleges that an email dated April 9, 2011, in which Ludwig challenged a directive that Francis have given him regarding scheduling within the police department, triggered his May 13 placement on administrative leave and his subsequent termination May 27, 2011.

The first claim for relief outlined in the suit and directed against the City of Hood River cites a violation of ORS 659A.199, which precludes employers from retaliating for whistle blowing.

The second claim, against Francis specifically, cites a violation of ORS659A.030(I)(g), which precludes aiding and abetting retaliation.

The final claim against the city alleges wrongful discharge - noting that Ludwig's challenge to Francis' directive was made in a good faith effort to avoid violating his officer's collective bargaining agreement with the city. The claim notes that Ludwig was "acting in furtherance of a public policy of societal interest" and that the city acted wrongfully in terminating him for that action.

Each individual claim carries a request for $250,000 in compensation plus attorney fees and court costs.

In both the first and second claims, Ludwig also requests reinstatement to his former position. In the third claim, he also requests a jury trial.

"I am confident that a jury will find that I was fired because I objected to Bob Francis' directive that I change scheduling practices in the police department in a way that I believed to be inconsistent with state law," stated Ludwig via an email sent to the News.

In the April 9 email quoted in the lawsuit, Ludwig stated to Francis, in part, "I have concluded that to follow through with the proposed change … would also clearly violate multiple terms of the current collective bargaining agreement … It would be highly unethical for me to implement this change knowing that it would violate terms of the current agreement…"

Ludwig also noted in his suit that on May 13, Francis placed him on administrative leave and delivered to him a letter advising him that Francis was considering termination of his employment, effective May 31, 2011, because "it has become apparent that our management philosophies and objectives are incompatible."

Ludwig is claiming that his communications challenging Francis' directive (as a violation of the officers' collective bargaining agreement) becomes a protected activity under the whistleblower law and that the city is liable for violation of his protected actions under this law when it terminated him.

In a letter to the News, Ludwig's attorney alleges that her review of the case leads to a "conclusion that the city's decision (to terminate Ludwig) was retaliatory and unlawful."

Latest stories

Latest video:

Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

Log in to comment

News from our Community Partners