Luman wins Mono County job back

mono_courthouse_10-08.jpgMono County lost another employee termination case. Judge Stan Eller has issued a decision in the case of Dick Luman, former Road Department mechanic. Judge Eller ordered the County Personnel Appeals Board decision to uphold Luman’s termination vacated. He ordered Mono County to reinstate Luman with all pay, benefits, seniority and more.

Judge Eller’s order also provides Luman with a new penalty hearing that would result in something less than termination. Luman was originally accused by the County of being in a physical fight with his Road Department Supervisor. The Appeals Board found, instead, that he had made threatening statements to that man, Brett McCurry. They upheld his termination. Judge Eller did not.

The Judge’s order says that Luman is due back pay from the time of his termination in December 2011 until his reinstatement. The order says if a penalty is imposed on Luman for his statements made to McCurry, the amount should be deducted from his back pay. Luman will also get interest on the money owed him at the “full legal rate.” The Judge also ordered that the County remove all documentation relating to the disciplinary action of termination and “refrain from using this information in any way adverse to Luman in his future employment with Mono County.”

The Judge’s decision points out that Dick Luman had worked for Mono County for many years with no prior history of any discipline and was characterized as responsible, capable and trustworthy. He was promoted to the highest level in his job classification. The order says, “There is absolutely no history of violence in the workplace exhibited by” Mr. Luman.

The Judge finds that Luman’s threatening statement was particular to an argument taking place with Mr. McCurry and was an isolated incident. The order also notes that Luman “got the worst of it as he suffered a cracked rib and a hernia requiring surgery.”

Attorney Katie Bellomo, who represented Luman, had also alleged that two Personnel Appeals Board members were biased. She claimed that Ralph Obenberger was biased because his office had investigated the altercation involving Luman and that Ralph Goode was biased because someone close to him was being investigated by the Sheriff’s Department. The Judge did not find that the hearing officers were biased. The Judge also found that the Appeals Board decision was not “arbitrary and capricious” just erroneous. So no attorneys fees were awarded.

The Judge’s conclusion says, “The court determines that the Personnel Appeal Board’s findings that Luman made a threat of violence and provided misleading statements is supported by the weight of the evidence. However,” the decision says, “the most extreme form of penalty, termination of employment, was grossly excessive” in view of the law.

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12 Responses to Luman wins Mono County job back

  1. LMAO April 26, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

    I think one of these famous “supplemental reports” need to be done on MCSO by the FBI or the AG!

  2. Citizen Watch April 26, 2014 at 10:35 am #

    I agree with everything Mammothite has to say. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t just question the honesty of the MCSD (at least the administration, not saying all the deputies are) are unethical, dishonest, and are downright criminals with a badge. Their antics are famous around California and are even blogged about everywhere. It is flat embarrassing!

    All three of these cases you speak of have filed lawsuits against the County in Federal and Superior Courts and they are coming to a head. They are far from over in fact the time for the county to pay up is here, and the people that are responsible should be held accountable! The deny, deny, deny method has run its course and the truth has come out! The judges have spoken.

    Funny they all have something in common. The common denominator being the Leader of the supplemental bridgade himself Ralph Obenberger, Panel Member (Luman) Undersheriif in charge of Operations overseeing employee discipline (Madrid), and Sheriff in charge of the Sgt and Deputy that illegally searched and arrested a citizen. (Boulalaam)

    Pretty plain to me who should be removed from his appointed office!

  3. John April 26, 2014 at 10:15 am #

    This debacle has fallen upon Mono County taxpayers because of an incompetent County Counsel. Mono County taxpayers deserve better.

  4. Mammothite April 25, 2014 at 8:42 pm #

    Mono County now has three strikes against them by three different judges, when we look at the Madrid case, the Boulaalam case and the Luman case. It looks like new leadership is needed as well as a new County Counsel.

    This may not be over if lawsuits are filed against the county by those where were wronged by the county.

    The “after the fact” supplemental reports written by deputies in both the Boulaalam case and the Luman case to cover up previous mistakes, did not work at all and brings into question the overall honesty of MCSD.

    What will be the next shoe to drop in Mono County?

  5. Wasted Taxpayer money April 25, 2014 at 7:23 am #

    Good morning Benett,

    Can you please tell the taxpayers how much they have spent on this case? Seems to me that we are having to dole out tons of money constantly because the administrators in this county have no idea how to handle personnel issues.

    I do not understand why the county thinks it is okay to put other county employees on these panel hearings. That is a blatant conflict of interest. The panel should be made up of fair and impartial citizens not the undersheriff of the department that investigated the matter. The fact that Obenberger doesn’t care about conflicts of interest or what is out and out right or wrong shows how little he knows about administration. Much less the disaster he has brought to Mono County in the Madrid case, another massive amount of money wasted because he and other administrators in the department have no idea how to handle personnel issues. It is obvious by the rulings of an aribitrator and Superior court Judge that MCSO does not act in good faith, so why would we ever expect him to be fair with other county employees?

    This whole process is ridiculous and senseless. Much less it wasted three years of a man’s career at the counties whim. Even though Mr. Luman won his case they can never reimburse him for what they have put him through!

    • Deseert Tortoise April 26, 2014 at 9:19 pm #

      Personnel actions are never conducted in public due to state laws protecting the privacy of employees. That is a boilerplate legal policy of every public agency

  6. I wonder April 25, 2014 at 7:09 am #

    I wonder how much more the county will cut there employees over this mess?? The BOARD needs to look at the upper management. There seem to be big problems there not just the sheriffs department. Did the county hire someone as a hatchet man to get rid of problem employees?

  7. Puzzled April 24, 2014 at 9:54 pm #


    Can you please tell us who is going to be on the panel to decide what his penalty will be? I certainly hope it isn’t the original panel that Mr. Luman had. That would be very unfair to him. Especially after these last three years and all he has had to endure because of them. Thanks.

    • Benett Kessler April 25, 2014 at 7:30 am #

      The Judge’s order calls for “different members” on the new Personnel Appeal Board to re-visit Mr. Luman’s behavior. BK

      • Puzzled April 25, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

        I guess the comment about “Different members” from the judge speaks volumes, even if he took the politically correct road and did not say it outright!

        i found this sentance particularly interesting also:

        The Judge also ordered that the County remove all documentation relating to the disciplinary action of termination and “refrain from using this information in any way adverse to Luman in his future employment with Mono County.”

        Sounds like even Judge Eller expects the county will not treat him properly on his return. Pretty sad if I do say so myself!

        Is there no justice in this County?

  8. Over the Berger April 24, 2014 at 9:41 pm #

    I am extremely happy that Mr Luman will be getting his job back! It should have never been taken away from him in the first place.

    That said, I am disappointed that Eller took the Mono County Politically correct route that I knew he would. County protecting County. Same song and dance, different day! Thus the reason Obenberger was placed on the panel in first place!

    I 100% disagree with him about Ralph Obenberger and Ralph Goode being unbiased in this situation. Neither should have been on this panel in the first place.

    The worst offender is Ralph Obenberger! He should have reclused himself, but he doesn’t have the moral fortitude to do so. It was a clear display of the true Obenberger. I hope for everyone’s sake in Mono County the citizen’s are paying attention to how obviously lacking he is in integrity.

  9. Thankful April 24, 2014 at 9:32 pm #

    I for one am very thankful that Mono County has two very honest and moral Judges, Mark Magit and Stan Eller.

    They are clearly not part of the Good ole Boy Club.


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