Former health officer Dr. Lutz suing Spokane health district for wrongful termination
SPOKANE, Wash. — Former health officer Dr. Bob Lutz is filing a lawsuit against the Spokane Regional Health District claiming he was wrongfully terminated.
Lutz was fired by Administrator Amelia Clark last fall.
He claims Clark did not follow Washington state law when she terminated him on October 29. The law says termination can only be done by the health board and with proper notice and a hearing.
The health board did not confirm his termination until days later on November 5.
Lutz’ lawyer, Robert Carlson, says Lutz’s administrative claim also includes a claim for defamation, “owing to the impact on Dr. Lutz of the insensitive, unprofessional, and untrue statements made and implied by SRHD’s leadership and certain of its Board members.”
The lawsuit goes into extensive detail of Lutz’s time serving as health officer during the pandemic.
Lutz claims there were several incidents where members of the board put pressure on him to consider the economic impacts of his actions, rather than prioritizing public health.
For example, the lawsuit points to Lutz’s decision to cancel the Washington State Middle School Basketball tournament early on in the pandemic.
“The message these officials were sending to Dr. Lutz was that regional economic impacts should be a primary factor in his public health decisions,” the lawsuit states.
Another example included in the lawsuit includes alleged pressure by Commissioner Al French to apply for a variance to move the county forward to Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan, despite the county not meeting the criteria.
Lutz claims at least $1.4 million in economic damages for his termination, as well as defamation, emotional distress, mental anguish and injury to professional reputation.
“I took a stand for Public Health. It cost me my job. As a public health physician, it has been my responsibility to protect the public’s health and safety,” Lutz said in a statement Wednesday. “I have done so ethically and with integrity. The motives of others will not deter my advocacy. I will continue to stand for the public’s health.”
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