Former Parkersburg officer sues for wrongful termination

By Lawrence Smith | Aug 10, 2012

PARKERSBURG – A former Parkersburg Police officer is suing to get his job back.

The city of Parkersburg and Police Chief Joe Martin are named as co-defendants in a wrongful termination suit filed by David Taylor. In his complaint filed July 17 in Wood Circuit Court, Taylor, a Washington resident, alleges Martin fired him two years ago for alleged excessive absences, but without giving him any warning or an opportunity to defend himself in a disciplinary hearing.

According to his suit, Taylor was hired as a police officer on Sept. 12, 2006. In a letter dated July 14, 2010, Taylor was notified by Martin that his employment as an officer was immediately terminated.

On a date not specified, Taylor applied to Workforce West Virginia for unemployment compensation. Despite the city's objections, an administrative law judge on May 17, 2011 approved Taylor's claim.

According to the suit, the administrative law judge determined Martin terminated Taylor "for alleged excessive absences due to medical issues" in which the one prior to his termination "was due to circumstances beyond his control and would have been excused under normal circumstances." Because he "failed to present sufficient evidence of misconduct," and did not provide Taylor "prior warning that another occurrence would result in disciplinary action or discharge," the judge ruled Martin "did not have just cause to terminate [Taylor]."

Because the city opted not to appeal the judge's decision, Taylor says the ruling is sufficient evidence to prove he not only had "a property and a liberty interest" in his job, but also Martin fired him without due process.

Along with an order restoring his position to the department, Taylor seeks unspecified damages to include either back pay or future pay from the date of his termination, court costs and attorneys fees. He is represented by John E. Triplett, Jr. with the Marietta, Ohio law firm of Theisen Brock.

The case is assigned to Judge Robert A. Waters.

Wood Circuit Court case number 12-C-293

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