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."

Buzz Beeler September 06, 2012 at 01:57 PM
I guess Kamenetz still believes in Santa Klaus as well. Santa better bring him a bag of money to cover the cost. I wonder if Homan had to pass a back to work physical. You get into these cases and you find out just how our government picks and chooses whose lives to mess with. My former boss had bypass surgery and was scared to death to let anyone know because he feared for his job. If Kamenetz wants to be a leader than show Homan the door. Homan has no problem doing it to others. To turn your back on other human beings because they are hurt is unconscionable. Remember Officer John Stem. He went on to do great work while in a wheel chair after being shot. Remember Officer Champ who lost the use of one arm who ran the 911 center for years. These are people Mr. Kamenetz and bragging about winning at the expense of others lives is just a tad heartless.
Freddy September 06, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Mohler quote.: "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." What a crock if this was a true safety concern of the county each agency would have a mandatory physical fitness program. Each agency has limited access to the proper physical fitness equipment at their facilities or offer discounts to the neighborhood gyms to keep them in top physical condition.
FREE LEGAL September 06, 2012 at 03:01 PM
County government is best served by careful & caring decisions. Lauenstein was and is a good man, and he should get what he serves financially. I don't know who made the decision about him, but poor decisionmaking reflects badly on the current administration. You couple this with choices made on Solo Cup, and we have quite a way to go to get good government.
MC September 06, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Buzz, you are constantly bringing up Mr Homan in your posts, it is pretty obvious how envious of him you are. You almost seem like a jilted lover. He must be quite a man for you to be chasing after him for this long.
Buzz Beeler September 06, 2012 at 04:06 PM
MC, Fred Homan is a cold case and sometimes it takes time to clear these things up. You know - The Office of Fred. That name was not bestowed upon him for being compassionate like the time he fired the lady that caught him in one of his finer performances in the county office building. As to your question about, "He must be quite a man ..." I'll give you the name of person that is more qualified than me to answer that. By the way the court case is online. Interesting reading.
TT McBean September 06, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Hey Buzz, I heard that you may be hiding behind some medical records and certain people cannot comment about you because of that
number9dream September 06, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Judging from your reply I sense that McBean's comment was inordinately provocative. No?
MC September 06, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Anyone can file a lawsuit and say whatever they want in it. My question to you is, "what was the outcome in that case"? It's not newsworthy to report that the case was dismissed. Like I said, it's just funny to see you so envious.
fred September 06, 2012 at 06:21 PM
why would anyone including the county think they will prevail in these cases since they have the same basis as what they settled 10 others on. its the same decision makers that made these choices while using medical information from a doctor that has been banned from being used by the county as stated in the previous settlement with the feds. even though the county did not admit to wrong doing in those cases , they must file reports with the feds every 6 months to show what they are doing to comply with the improper practices that caused the settlements. the feds wouldn't do this if you didn't do anything wrong.
MRR September 06, 2012 at 06:22 PM
Hey. MC I worked with FF Becker, you couldn't have a better FF. I watched what happened to him and how he was treated by the Chief and Mr. Homan. It was a disgrace. These men wanted to work not collect disability. I would testify on their behalf in a second!
Buzz Beeler September 06, 2012 at 06:23 PM
number9, inordinately might not be the word describe this issue. He is implying that I'm hiding something which I am not. Accusatory may apply in this case, but without merit. The last sentence was a funny. MC What case are you referring to? If you are referring to my workers comp issue it was never resolved. The hearing judge ruled in my favor but the county, as they always do appealed it. I chose retirement because unlike the county I can't spend taxpayers money to defend myself. I'll give you an idea of how the county works in my blog on he Mainsail Pension Scandal. It will be a good read for those that don't work in the administrative office.
Frank The Breadman September 06, 2012 at 11:20 PM
Kinda like your unhealthy obsession with the Auditor's Office, huh? You jilted too?
Buzz Beeler September 07, 2012 at 12:53 PM
TT brilliant first comment on Patch. What part of the county office building are you in? Why would I want to hide medical records? What's the motive? I'm retired remember. I'll show you mine if you show me yours!
MC September 07, 2012 at 05:05 PM
So, you got a favorable ruling (whatever that means) but you chose retirement because the county appealed the ruling? I would hope the county would appeal every unfavorable ruling. I'm an old dog and that doesn't pass the smell test.
Buzz Beeler September 07, 2012 at 06:06 PM
It means that the judge ruled that my injury was in the line of duty. Speaking of smell test, if it wasn't for Cole Weston the county would have stole my pension. The Office of Fred. In fact the call to Mr. Homan's office was on the speaker phone and the person on he other end was obviously intimidated by stating they could not talk about my case, Had I been a couple of days later I would have lost my pension. In a way that would have made an interesting case. Here is as story in the Sun about your hero Homan. http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2007-07-03/news/0707030127_1_homan-assistant-county-attorney-county-government Seems he received more than one raise in this case. I notice your comments are very limited in number and topic. Does Fred let you use his computer to write this stuff. Old dogs generally have fleas and as far as the smell test any other county employee getting caught doing what Homan and Burger did would have been fired. I don't think what they got caught doing is covered in their job description. You said you were an "old dog," does that mean you go back to the days of Dale Anderson, Sam Green and Spiro Agnew. I'm working on a blog about Mainsail and your buddy Homan. I don't like the idea of one man having the power over our widows pension fund.
MC September 07, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Were you hiding under Fred's desk and know something that the courts didn't? Wow, must hurt to be so envious of another man. I gotta stay away from you.
MC September 07, 2012 at 07:40 PM
FYI, not my hero, you are the envious one.
Arlow September 08, 2012 at 03:16 AM
Apparently the same doctor that the County sends employees to when their doctor and Concentra say they're fit for duty, according to the Sun. The one they can no longer use.
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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