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County Expects Vindication in Federal Disabillity Lawsuits

Three cases filed Wednesday come a month after the county settled ten claims in a Department of Justice lawsuit.

County officials said filed in federal court are without merit and that its policies on requiring medical testing for some employees will be vindicated.

In a rare comment on pending litigation, Don Mohler, a county spokesman, said the county has done nothing wrong and he believes the county will ultimately win all three cases.

"We don't think these lawsuits have any merit," said Mohler. "We stand by the county's policies and procedures. We don't think that we've done anything wrong and we'll make that case again."

Firefighters Donald Becker and Stanley Kuklinski and police Lt. Michael Lauenstein are each seeking $2.3 million in damages and additional legal fees. All three claim they were forced to undergo illegal medical testing that the county then used to force them into retirement. (All three lawsuits are attached to this article.)

"These three men had decades of distinguished service putting themselves in harm's way to protect us and this is how this county treats them?," said , a Towson attorney who represents all three former county employees. "That cannot be the ending, so now we will fight on until they are honored and compensated for the premature demise of their careers."

Cahill was also the attorney in the ten settlements made with the county through a . In that settlement, the county admitted no wrongdoing.

The new cases filed Wednesday were not part of that settlement. The Department of Justice will not be involved in these cases, which Cahill said represent some of the most serious examples of mistreatment of workers by the county because all three ultimately lost their jobs.

Donald Becker was firefigher from April 1981 to June 2009.

In 2008, Becker underwent shoulder replacement surgery. He was later given permission by his surgeon to return to full, unrestricted duty after what was called a "remarkable recovery," according to the lawsuit.

The county ordered him to undergo additional medical exams which also cleared him for duty. Despite that diagnosis, Becker was sent a letter requiring that he resign by January 16, 2009. He was later threatened with a loss of retirement benefits if he did not comply and was ultimately forced out on a disability retirement.

Stanley Kuklinski served as a firefighter from March 1983 to October 2008 and was "highly decorated for his achievements and bravery," according to the federal lawsuit.

Following coronary bypass surgery in 2007, Kuklinski was ordered to undergo extensive medical exams by the county, which Cahill said were illegal.

Despite being cleared for duty by his own doctor, the county required additional medical exams and later restricted him to light duty before forcing him to leave his job on a disability retirement, according to the lawsuit.

Lt. Michael Lauenstein served as a Baltimore County police officer from February 1976 to February 2007.

Lauenstein was forced to undergo medical exams after his name came up in court testimony related to a lawsuit filed by Phillip Crumbacker, who sued the county appealing his forced retirement due to a seizure disorder.

Crumbacker's lawyer said in testimony that Lauenstein was also believed to have also had seizures. The next day, the county ordered Lauenstein to undergo medical testing.

Cahill, in the federal lawsuit, stated that Lauenstein did not have a seizure disorder but was ultimately forced to retire.

In all three cases, the county used the same physician—Dr. Peter Oroszlan.

Oroszlan was linked in all ten cases settled last month through the Department of Justice. As part of that settlement, the county is barred from using Oroszlan again.

Mohler was quick to point out that the Department of Justice will not take part in this case.

While Mohler maintains that the county's policies and procedures on fitness for duty medical exams is legal, the county has lost other related lawsuits.

Most recently, Det. William Blake was and legal fees after a federal judge determined that the county illegally required the veteran police officer to undergo multiple fitness for duty exams after a single seizure.

"I can't speak for why a judge would come to the conclusions he did," said Mohler. "Safety of employees and safety of county residents is the primary concern. We believe, with regards to the whole fitness for duty issue, that we've never done anything wrong."

Arlow September 08, 2012 at 03:20 AM
Just stay away. Your childish attitude is wearing thin. And I'm no fan of Buzz's, either. He doesn't know squat about history, but he does seem to know the machinations of the county.
Buzz Beeler September 08, 2012 at 03:43 AM
MC read some of Byran's articles on Homan. It will set you free. Since your so studious the case is on line for your reading enjoyment. But then you have to know how to use a computer. Stick with Fred and see how long you last. Somehow your ability to judge character is a bit screwed.
Buzz Beeler September 08, 2012 at 03:58 AM
Arlow, thanks, I think. Either way you try and be objective. I will agree with you sometimes I can't stand myself especially when I make a stupid mistake which I'm very good at.
Frank The Breadman September 08, 2012 at 11:39 PM
MC will get back to us on Monday when the County's work week resumes. No need to do this on personal time.
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