By David Singleton
SCRANTON, Pa. — A former University of Scranton police officer accuses the school of violating the Pennsylvania Whistleblower Law for firing her after she notified superiors that a police report she filed was fraudulently altered.
In a lawsuit filed this week in Lackawanna County Court, Moosic resident Lisa Kimes said the university also retaliated against her for taking leave to care for a sick child after granting her the time off under the Family Medical Leave Act.
She is seeking unspecified actual and punitive damages.
Ms. Kimes worked as an officer for the university Police Department for more than five years before the school dismissed her in October, according to the civil complaint prepared by attorney Ari R. Karpf of Bensalem.
In April 2012, in a police report she wrote regarding an injury to a fellow officer, Ms. Kimes noted she called Capt. Thomas Cadugan, assistant director of operations, to ask which hospital the injured officer should go to and waited 20 minutes for him to respond but received no return call.
Kevin Rude, a department investigator assigned to look into the injury, asked her the next day to sign her report, which he insisted she had forgotten to do, the complaint said. When she reviewed the document presented to her by Mr. Rude, she found the original report she drafted had been altered to delete the reference to Capt. Cadugan not responding to her call.
Ms. Kimes reported the fraudulent report to the department's management, including Chief Donald Bergmann and Sgt. Thomas Savero, according to the complaint.
In the meantime, management questioned Ms. Kimes' use of intermittent family leave, which she had been granted in December 2011 to care for her son, who had a serious health condition, the attorney said. She was branded "inconsiderate" during her annual review in July 2012 for using family leave on a day when she knew the department was short-staffed.
Shortly after reporting the altered police report, the department's management began subjecting Ms. Kimes to "severe animosity and hostility," the complaint alleged. Among other things, she was disciplined, received negative performance evaluations and was involuntarily transfer to a different shift.
Ms. Kimes complained about the retaliatory and inappropriate behavior she was subjected to, both with regard to reporting the altered report and her use of family leave, but the university did not properly investigate or resolve the concerns, the lawsuit said.
University of Scranton spokesman Stan Zygmunt said Tuesday the university does not comment on pending litigation.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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