Spokane: we won’t pay off cop over DUI hit-run

by Walter Olson on April 10, 2012

“The Spokane City Council voted [unanimously Feb. 27] against a settlement in which a Spokane police officer fired in 2009 after a DUI and hit and run, would have been rehired and received $275,000. … Councilmember Mike Fagan said during the City Council meeting, ‘I not only say no, but I say hell no.'” [KREM] Attorney Bob Dunn, representing former officer Brad Thoma, said “his client was fired after the city refused to accommodate Thoma following a doctor’s diagnosis of alcoholism. ‘Disability law clearly identifies that alcoholism is just that a disability. Washington follows the ADA.’ The case started in 2009 when Thoma hit another vehicle while driving drunk then fled the scene.” Dunn said he would file a $4 million suit on behalf of Thoma. [same]

{ 9 comments }

1 gasman 04.10.12 at 11:43 am

Too many behavioral patterns are becoming diseases.

So we are stuck with alcoholism as a ‘disease’ in the medical model of things. He cannot control his drinking. But where does it state that he has drivaholism? Driving with the impairment is a volitional choice; a poor one, but a choice freely made nevertheless. And it does not reflect well on the qualifications of an individual who want public license to choose when to use deadly force.

2 CTrees 04.10.12 at 3:06 pm

IANAL, but doesn’t the ADA only require reasonable accomodation? I can think of nothing reasonable which would allow a person so alcoholic as to be prone to drunk driving to continue driving and carrying a firearm as a profession.

Stick him in a desk job with no police-car privileges and no weapon, sure, I could accept that. I tend to think the most reasonable accomodation for most of these addictions is time off to go through rehab, but

3 boblipton 04.10.12 at 3:25 pm

What’s reasonable? There are several dictionary definitions, but the one people use when they say things like “Why can’t you be reasonable?” is “What I want.” What this guy wants is $275,000 and his job back. Why can’t they be reasonable?

Bob

4 Richard Nieporent 04.10.12 at 3:33 pm

Attorney Bob Dunn, representing former officer Brad Thoma, said “his client was fired after the city refused to accommodate Thoma following a doctor’s diagnosis of alcoholism.

They refused to provide him with free beer. :)

5 gitarcarver 04.10.12 at 4:27 pm

I am really trying to understand this.

Cop goes out, drives while drunk, hits something, and leaves the scene of the accident. He doesn’t get prosecuted (most likely because he is a cop) but he loses his job. Yet because of the DUI and leaving the scene, he can’t work as a cop anymore because it would be foreseeable that as a drunk, he would run over someone leaving the city on the hook for that lawsuit.

In 2011, the law changes, allowing him to get his job back, and so he sues for $275,000 in back pay?

For one year of lost work?

I am with the Councilman…. not only “no,” “hell no.”

6 John Burgess 04.10.12 at 5:33 pm

@gitarcarver: I could see letting him recover, but only if the civil suit by the family of the person he hit recovers $375,000 from him. The payment would remove him from the ‘judgment proof’ category.

7 mojo 04.10.12 at 5:51 pm

Would BevMo coupons be acceptable as compensation?

8 mjs 04.10.12 at 8:03 pm

Another exhibit in the increasingly compelling case to reform all disability laws……………

9 Michael Burke 04.11.12 at 4:19 pm

During the time that the ADA was being considered and debated, there were anarhco-free enterprise-individualists, comme moi, who prognosticated that public sector employees would not be bashful about asking for more via the legislation.

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