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Hearing slated for Friday in $6M lawsuit against sheriff, Loudoun County

A hearing in the $6.35 million lawsuit brought by a former Loudoun detective against Sheriff Mike Chapman (R) and the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors will be held Friday in Alexandria.

The hearing at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia will center around Chapman and the Board of Supervisors' motion to dismiss the suit, along with a separate motion for summary judgment filed by the attorney of former Loudoun detective Mark McCaffrey, who brought the suit against Chapman and the county.

The original lawsuit was filed in July by McCaffrey, who claimed he was wrongfully terminated from his position after supporting Chapman's Republican primary election challenger for sheriff in 2015, Eric Noble. The former LCSO detective said his termination violated the U.S. and Virginia constitutions.

The four-count, 50-page suit seeks compensatory money damages against all the defendants of $3.5 million, punitive damages against Chapman of $2.5 million for the alleged federal constitutional violation and $350,000 for the state constitutional violation, which is capped by Virginia law.

McCaffrey, through his attorney, said the county and the Board of Supervisors are joined in the lawsuit because the board entered into a cooperative agreement with the sheriff, a local constitutional officer, in which the board assumed county responsibility for the personnel actions of the sheriff and adopted rules that apply across the board to protect the constitutional rights of county employees and employees of the sheriff’s office.

The board, McCaffrey alleges, did nothing to enforce the rules to keep McCaffrey from being fired out of retaliation.

According to filings for dismissal entered Aug. 30, the county argues it should not be a party to the case because Chapman is a constitutional officer and therefore not under the control of the Board of Supervisors.

A motion to support dismissal filed by the county notes: “Under Virginia law, the Sheriff is an elected constitutional officer, empowered to appoint and remove his deputies at his discretion. Va. Code §§ 15.2-1600 and 15.2-1603. The Code of Virginia explicitly denies the County Defendants any authority to diminish the Sheriff’s powers under state law, including the powers to organize his office and to appoint and remove his deputies.”

Chapman's attorney, Alexander Francuzenko, argued McCaffrey's “complaint fails to allege sufficient facts to state a claim against Sheriff Chapman in his official capacity for Constitutional violations.”

In September, McCaffrey's attorney, Robert Cynkar, filed a motion for summary judgment asking federal Judge Anthony Trenga to go straight to a trial to determine what damages McCaffrey is owed.

“A trial is divided into two parts, liability and damages for liability. We are wanting the court to recognize the liability is already established. This is on the premise there are no disputes of fact,” Cynkar said.

The motion asked the judge to hold the defendants liable for violating McCaffrey’s right to freedom of expression.

Cynkar said Sheriff Chapman hadn't disputed the fact he didn't keep McCaffrey on because McCaffrey voted for the other candidate in the Republican primary for sheriff.

Cynkar said everyone has a first Amendment right to political expression, and no one loses that right when they become a public employee as long as an employee isn't disrupting the workplace with political views. Cynkar went on to say his client has never been accused of doing so.

“If the other side says McCaffrey had a partisan role then all deputies do then. McCaffrey was one of 600 or more deputies at the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office,” Cynkar said.

McCaffrey is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement. He came to Loudoun County in 2005 after serving two years in the New York City Police Department and 18 years working through the ranks in the Greenburgh Police Department in Westchester County, N.Y. McCaffrey was the lead investigator in the case of Braulio M. Castillo, one of Loudoun’s most high-profile murder cases in recent years.

Comments


Folks should understand that every assistant working for a BOS member has zero protections as well. They can fired because they like or dislike Trump. It’s in their manual.  Rather ironic for Randall, Umstaddt and Saines to allow employees to have their speech rights curtailed, eh?

Can someone link to or post the agreement LCSO entered with the county? I haven’t seen that one though.


Chapman lost certain rights as a constitutional officer by entering into the agreement with the county to follow personnel regulations.  Had he not entered into the agreement, he would have preserved his VA code authorities.

How much is this costing the taxpayers?  Settle now….


Chapmans guilty.  He is a professional liar and removed all integrity from the sheriffs office.  Record number of people resigning to get away from the train wreck he has caused. Time for him to leave office and get a real Sheriff in office. He leads by fear and intimidation.  That’s no leader.  That’s a bully. No one respects him. Time to go chappy

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