July 30, 2014

Elyria
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City of Elyria settles police officer’s lawsuit

ELYRIA — City officials have settled a lawsuit filed by an Elyria police officer after the Elyria Civil Service Commission denied his promotion to sergeant.

Under the terms of the settlement, which City Council unanimously approved Monday night, Officer David Ross will become a sergeant. His promotion fills a vacancy that was created with the retirement of Sgt. Michael Behne in November 2011, said Law Director Scott Serazin.

Ross has been an officer in the city since March 1998.

Serazin said Ross agreed to voluntarily withdraw his name from the pending lieutenant’s promotional eligibility list and waive any payment of back wages. In exchange, the city will pay his lawyer’s fees and court costs.

“We felt it was time this was settled,” Serazin said. “We have to go forward from this point, and this settlement allows us to do so with both a brand-new sergeants’ and lieutenants’ promotional list that will be good for two years.”

Serazin said the settlement has absolutely no bearing on the posthumous promotion to sergeant of slain Sgt. James Kerstetter, who was elevated to the higher rank after his death in the line of duty in March 2010.

Ross originally contended in his lawsuit that he should have been named a sergeant before Kerstetter, and therefore Kerstetter’s promotion was “unlawful.”

However, Serazin said the theory Ross used to file the lawsuit was flawed because Kerstetter’s promotion, which also came through a settlement, as he was involved in his own lawsuit against the city prior to his death, did not result from any kind of vacancy in the rank and therefore had no bearing on the case.

“The vacancy was created when Sgt. Behne retired, so if a promotion was to come, it was then,” Serazin said.

Now that the city has the new lists, promotions will be determined based on those should a position become vacant, Serazin said.

Ross’ promotion is effective immediately upon Council’s ordinance being filed in Lorain County Common Pleas Court.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.