Archive for Thursday, August 24, 2006

Police officer’s suit against city set for jury trial

August 24, 2006

A November trial date has been set for a Basehor police sergeant, who is suing the city because he wasn't hired as police chief two years ago.

Sgt. Martin Cigich, who is now 56, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., alleging the city discriminated against him because of his age. In addition, Cigich claims he should have received preference when the city was hiring a police chief because he is a military veteran.

In its defense of the lawsuit, the city maintains Cigich was not the most qualified applicant.

Cigich, who is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, was 54 when the city hired then-42-year-old Terry Horner. Horner continues to work as Basehor police chief.

Cigich, a 20-year veteran of the police force, earlier this year was on medical leave. Now, however, city officials refuse to discuss his employment status with the city, saying they need his permission.

In a pretrial order filed last week, U.S. District Judge John Lungstrum said the jury trial is expected to begin at 9:30 a.m. Nov. 7 and will last three to four days.

According to information in the order, Cigich graduated from Washington High School in Kansas City, Kan., and obtained an associate's arts degree from Kansas City, Kansas Community College in psychology and sociology. He served in the Marine Corps from 1967 to 1969, when he was honorably discharged, but he never served overseas or in a combat zone.

Cigich was promoted to police sergeant in 1989, three years after he started work for the city.

In spring 2004, then-Chief Vince Weston announced his retirement for medical reasons.

Cigich, who was the second ranking officer in the department, served as acting police chief after Weston's retirement.

The city received about 40 job applications, including one from Cigich. That group was narrowed to seven applicants who were then interviewed by telephone. Cigich was not included in that list of seven.

Cigich is seeking about $21,700 in back pay.

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