Firefighter's union files lawsuit

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Saturday, April 19, 2008
— The union representing Janesville firefighters has filed a judgment and other documents in Rock County Court against the city, the fire chief and the police and fire commission.

According to court documents, the Local 580 claims that Matthew B. Simpson, 115 S. Garfield, Janesville, was “arbitrarily, oppressively and unreasonably” demoted from lieutenant to paramedic.

In August, Fire Chief Larry Grorud recommended promoting Simpson and other firefighters to the position of lieutenant. Simpson has worked for the Janesville Fire Department since 1984, the documents state.

The police and fire commission met in closed session to review the documents supporting Simpson’s promotion. At the first meeting, a commissioner recused himself, leaving the commission without a quorum.

Later that month, the commission met again in closed session and voted on Simpson’s promotion. It failed on a 2-2 vote.

But after further discussion, and after another commissioner recused himself, the motion passed, 2-1.

Simpson was promoted August 28. In November, the commission met again, and approved the minutes of the August meeting, which ratified Simpson’s promotion, the union claims in the documents.

On Nov. 12, Grorud wrote a memo to department personnel, stating Simpson’s promotion had been a “mistake” and had not been approved by the police and fire commission. Effective Nov. 17, Simpson would be demoted to his previous position as an ambulance paramedic.

The documents state that because Simpson was not demoted for disciplinary or financial reasons, the city, Grorud and the commission acted outside of their jurisdictions and on an incorrect theory of law.

Simpson is entitled to reinstatement to his position as lieutenant with full compensation and benefits as of Nov. 17.

The documents also seek reimbursement of court charges for the petitioners.

Last updated: 8:56 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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