Bob Harvey, the former chief of the Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District, has sued the fire district for $1 million on the grounds of defamation, emotional harm and that he was wrongfully terminated in 2014.
The beleaguered chief's departure in June 2014 was mysterious. By Harvey's account last summer, he resigned after a prolonged sick leave due to post-traumatic stress disorder after the Black Forest Fire in 2013.
The Black Forest fire board said in an Aug. 20, 2014, meeting that it had not heard from Harvey in 11 weeks and his refusal to communicate amounted to a public resignation. Despite the lack of communication, the board said it had not fired Harvey, but was searching for a new chief.
The lawsuit claims Harvey was fired after he sought to use employee benefits, such as vacation and sick leave. "The district terminated the chief without due cause, in retaliation for the chief acting in accordance with his legal duties, in violation of public policy, and without due process or affording any actual notice or protections to the chief," Harvey's lawyers stated in a lawsuit filed June 18. The Black Forest fire district claims that Harvey missed his legal window in which to file a lawsuit, 180 days after "injury" was done to Harvey. The response to Harvey's lawsuit, filed Sept. 21, asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit.
Court documents reveal an extended and bitter battle between Harvey and members of the fire district board, which oversees hiring and the budget.