published: Friday, January 11, 2013
Rowan's civil suit against AP scheduled for court
By CHRISTOPHER TUFFLEY
AVON PARK -- Former police chief Michael Rowan's civil case against the city is active once more.
Judge David Langford ordered the case to proceed to trial. "The court finds that in addition to legal issues to be decided, there are disputes over genuine issues of material fact that should be decided by a jury," he wrote. A provisional date for the trial was set for April 8.
Before then, however, Rowan and the city have agreed to sit for a mediation session scheduled for Jan. 22. Should an agreement be reached, there will be no need for a trial.
Should mediation be unsuccessful, the trial proceeds, but there is a complication. Brian Koji, the city's labor attorney, is scheduled to be in court on another case April 8. If the timing conflict can't be resolved, the trial would be postponed.
Rowan's suit stems back a year and a half, when Avon Park City Manager Julian Deleon suspended Rowan without pay on June 13, 2011 after Rowan could not come to terms with the city on a separation agreement.
Rowan had come under fire after it was learned he had investigated a number of city council members, including Mayor Sharon Schuler and Deputy Mayor Brenda Gray, regarding citizen complaints about corruption and Sunshine Law violations.
A major issue in the case is whether Rowan was put on administrative leave, then suspended, then fired in response to his investigation.
Rowan is asking for his job back, back wages and damages in one count of contract violation and one count of a "whistleblower" allegation. A whistleblower lawsuit is when employees allege they were punished for reporting possible wrong doings about their employers.
The News-Sun was unable to reach Brian Koji or Robert Grizzard, Rowan's attorney, by press time.
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