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The former executive director of Monroe Community Hospital has sued Monroe County over his firing, and his lawyer said he is seeking in excess of $3 million in damages.
Todd Spring was let go in May after a state report on hospital operations found he confiscated the wheelchair of a resident amputee for violating a smoking policy, effectively confining him to a bed.
PDF: The lawsuit
The lawsuit, filed last week in federal U.S. District Court in Rochester, was not entirely unexpected. Most of the allegations contained in its complaint were foreshadowed in a previously filed notice of claim, a precursor to a lawsuit.
Nowhere does the complaint state how much Spring is seeking in damages, but Spring's lawyer, Glenn Pezzulo, said in an interview that his client would ask for more than $3 million.
"This is going to be a substantial lawsuit," Pezzulo said. "Todd sustained substantial damages, including lost salary, diminished earning capacity, lost career and business opportunities and damage to his reputation."
Spring was hired in January 2000 as the hospital's deputy director and was appointed executive director in September 2003. His salary at the time of his firing was $139,798, according to the county.
The complaint alleges that the county violated Spring's constitutional rights by prohibiting him from speaking publicly about the state's report, neglected to provide him with adequate legal representation and challenge elements of the state's findings the county believed to be false, and defamed him in statements made to local media.
County spokesman Justin Feasel declined to comment on the lawsuit.
When the Democrat and Chronicle first broke news of the state's report in April, the administration of County Executive Maggie Brooks initially said Spring was not in jeopardy of losing his job.
But the administration reversed course in the face of mounting criticism and troubling revelations about hospital oversight, including that a board of directors mandated by law had been defunct for years.
The complaint alleges the reversal was politically motivated.
The federal lawsuit is different from another that Spring filed against the county last month in state court. In that case, Spring alleges the county failed to respond to a request for documents he made under the state's Freedom of Information law.
A wrongful death lawsuit stemming from the state's report was filed in September on behalf of the estate of the hospital resident found to have been deprived of his wheelchair, Samuel Condello. Condello died in January, about a month after he was allegedly stripped of his wheelchair. That case is pending in state court.