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Sheriff Settles Lawsuit With Deputy


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11/17/2008
Brent Adams
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On May 28, a Florida sheriff’s deputy whose workers’ compensation claim was denied by a judge who questioned his veracity won reinstatement to the payroll of the Pasco sheriff’s department.

A lawsuit filed on May 27 on behalf of Steven Sickles was settled by Pasco Sheriff Bob White. The suit alleged that Sickles was effectively fired by being placed on unpaid suspension two days after the judge’s ruling was issued.

According to Kerry O’Connor, Sickles’ attorney, he will be given back pay and remain on paid leave while the investigation by the sheriff’s office into the workers’ comp claim is completed.

Initially, the suit, filed in the form of an emergency petition for an injunction, was denied on the date of filing by Pasco Circuit Judge Stanley Mills. Mills said he wouldn’t order White to place Sickles on paid leave, as was requested by the suit, without an adversarial hearing on the issue being held.

According to O’Connor, White allegedly didn’t follow a Florida law referred to as the Police Officer’s Bill of Rights. That law maintains that Sickles must be notified in writing that he is the target of an internal investigation before he is allowed to be placed on paid or unpaid leave, O’Connor said. She also said that White, and not his subordinates, is the only one to take such action.

The May 7 ruling of Judge Lauren Hafner stated that it was shown by evidence that Sickles had knowingly changed his version of what happened after an incident in January of 2006 in which he was injured by a suspect resisting arrest.



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