Rowan lawsuit returns to 10th Judicial Circuit
Marc Valero | Highlands TodayAVON PARK - The legal wranglings in Mike Rowan's lawsuit against the City of Avon Park will play out once again in the Florida's 10th Judicial Circuit Court in Highlands County.
Published: July 20, 2012
Published: July 20, 2012
The lawsuit, which originally was filed in the 10th Judicial Circuit on June 16, 2011, moved March 2 to the U.S. District Court Southern District of Florida Fort Pierce Division.
The case moved to federal court after Rowan's attorney, Robert Grizzard II, filed an amended complaint on Feb. 27.
Count III of the amended complaint claimed the City of Avon Park terminated Rowan's employment contract without due process, which without appropriate compensation, violates the Florida Constitution and an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Avon Park's labor attorney Brian Koji initially filed a motion in March to seek dismissal of Count III, but the case remained in federal court, and assigned to U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore of Miami, for four and half months.
On July 12, Moore issued an order granting Koji's motion to dismiss Count III and remanding the case to the 10th Judicial Circuit, Highlands County.
Grizzard said "the federal court judge found that we had a remedy under state law and if you have a remedy under state law then the federal court won't take jurisdiction on that action."
The remedy that they have is a due process hearing according to the federal judge, Grizzard said.
"We will be back before Judge [David] Langford, that's essentially where we started out, that's where I filed the case," he said. "I don't have any particular problem with it coming back," to the 10th Judicial Circuit, Highlands County.
The change back to circuit court cancels a U.S. District Court scheduled mediation hearing in November and a scheduled jury trial in February.
Rowan filed suit against the city on June 16 after City Manager Julian Deleon suspended him with pay on April 19, then stripped him of his pay in June after it came to light that Rowan had investigated Mayor Sharon Schuler, Deputy Mayor Brenda Gray, city project manager Maria Sutherland and her husband, Councilman Parke Sutherland, for allegedly illegal activities.
On Oct. 19, Deleon fired Rowan, citing a Sept. 6 letter in which Deleon told Rowan that his responses to questions about inappropriate recordings and active cases involving city officials were untruthful and insubordinate. Deleon also cited a state attorney's office report regarding Rowan's investigation of city officials and employees.
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