Deputy fired; amends lawsuit

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By Susan Sharp

A Campbell County Sheriff’s Deputy (CCSD) recently praised for his professionalism and commitment was terminated on Friday.

Darrell Mongar, an 11-year veteran of the CCSD, was called into Sheriff Gary Perkin’s office just before noon. Once in the office, Mongar said Perkins relieved him of his duties citing he had not been loyal as a reason for the termination.

In April Mongar had filed a $300,000 lawsuit asking he be awarded those damages because of injuries he sustained while employed at the CCSD.

On Tuesday, an amendment to that lawsuit was filed in Campbell County Circuit Court.

Now, Mongar has upped the ante asking for damages in the amount of $500,000, the amended lawsuit says.

David Dunaway, who represents Mongar, classified the termination as a “retaliatory discharge” against an officer with handicaps who had filed a worker’s compensation claim.

In April 2008, Mongar was returning to his office from a theft call when he “suddenly lost consciousness” and collided into two other vehicles. This accident left him with injuries to his head, neck, back, and right shoulder, according to the lawsuit.

In the circuit court filing, Dunaway says prior to the accident, Mongar began to suffer seizures and black outs due to his exposure to meth labs.

Following a series of medical evaluations Mongar returned to work. But a year after the accident, in April of this year, Mongar was told he and canine partner of eight years, Rooke, would no longer be working together, the lawsuit says. In fact, Rooke was being retired from service.

Mongar’s inability to physically handle the dog was cited as a reason for the retirement, the officer said.

This retirement of Rooke reduced Mongar’s annual salary by $9,750 because he was no longer acting as the county’s K-9 officer.

Mongar’s  action against the county, asking for a monetary award as compensation for injuries he incurred while working at the CCSD, was the reason Mongar was fired by Perkins, the lawsuit claims.

“He (Perkins) fired him (Mongar) because he spoke out,” Dunaway said on Tuesday. “He has this handicap and this is how he gets rewarded.”

Dunaway also said the retirement of Rooke and the subsequent salary cut for Mongar was done to make an example of him for filing the worker’s compensation claim.

After Rooke was retired, Mongar said the dog was given to him. After a thorough examination by a veterinarian, Rooke was given a clean bill of health, according to Mongar.

In June, Mongar and Rooke attended a police canine competition in Loudon County. At the end of the event, Rooke earned a 10 th place finish and high praise from the judges. Mongar was also awarded the Good Sportsmanship award.

Dunaway said this finish at the competition was confirmation the dog was fit for service. An ensuing story in the LaFollette Press “exposed the true facts about the dog,” Dunaway said referencing the July 16 story.

Regarding the allegation Mongar had been disloyal and that was the reason behind his firing, Dunaway says that is a “pretextual” cause for Mongar’s termination.

Citing the recent court filing, Dunaway said that was motive behind his client losing his job.

“He exercised his legal remedy to file a claim,” Dunaway said.

On Tuesday afternoon, Perkins declined comment on Mongar’s dismissal. He referred to the pending litigation as the reason.  

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