Griffith officials ask federal judge to toss out lawsuit

2013-09-12T19:00:00Z 2013-09-12T22:11:27Z Griffith officials ask federal judge to toss out lawsuitElvia Malagon elvia.malagon@nwi.com, (219) 933-3246 nwitimes.com
September 12, 2013 7:00 pm  • 

HAMMOND | Griffith officials filed a motion Wednesday asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit brought against them by a former Griffith police chief.

Ronald Kottka filed a federal lawsuit in July against the Griffith Public Safety Board and the Griffith Town Council Vice President. In the lawsuit, Kottka says officials violated his 14th Amendment rights and defamed him when he was demoted as police chief. 

The defendants in the lawsuit are Griffith Town Council Vice President Rick Ryfa, R-3rd; Griffith Public Safety Board President Jim Marker; and board members Roann Purgert, John Volkmann, Gary Sutton and Liz Goral.

Kottka is seeking compensatory damages of $100,000 from the town and punitive damages from each defendant, according to court records. He also wants his attorney fees paid and wants a hearing on why he was demoted.

According to the lawsuit, after Kottka was demoted he experienced a hostile work environment, which led to his retirement in July. He says his 14th Amendment right to due process was violated when he wasn't given a hearing before his demotion.

In Wednesday's motion, the defendants argue the lawsuit should be dismissed because Kottka was not entitled to a hearing. The motion also argues that not having a hearing is not the same as a due process violation.

The motion also argues the statements noted in the lawsuit were not defamatory and that the remarks were part of their duty as public officials to make statements to the public. 

Kottka had worked at the Griffith Police Department for 38 years. He was demoted along with Lt. Michael Gulley by the Griffith Town Council after they received a recommendation from the safety board.

He was suspended for 30 days in February after an internal investigation determined he received $1,600 by falsifying work hour records.

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