Former health officer Dr. Bob Lutz serves health district with claim for damages

<p><p>Former Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz wants his job back at the Spokane Regional Health District. </p></p><p><p>He also wants compensation for his termination, which he maintains violated state law.</p></p><p><p>Lutz filed <a href=”https://www.leehayes.com/lutz-press-release-10.27.21″ target=”_blank”>an administrative claim</a> with the health district earlier this month.</p></p><p><p>This is a necessary administrative step required under state law when a person makes a claim of wrongful conduct against a government agency, said Robert Carlson, Lutz’s attorney said.</p></p><p><p>The claim is a precursor to what could be a civil lawsuit, but it does not have to be. Carlson said the hope is that the district determines that Lutz’s claim has merit and will work to resolve the issue out of court.</p></p><p><p>The health district has 60 days to respond to Lutz’s claim, at which point Lutz could proceed with a civil lawsuit.</p></p><p><p>Lutz is claiming at least $1.4 million in damages for wrongful termination in addition to “defamation, emotional distress, mental anguish and injury to professional reputation” as a result of his firing almost exactly a year ago to date.</p></p><p><p>In his claim, Lutz maintains that his firing was illegal under state and health district bylaws and he asks to be reinstated as the health officer and awarded the requested damages.</p></p><p><p>Lutz is also asking for damages for defamation from the health district.</p></p><p><p>“SRHD, by the acts of its agents, perpetuated and aided in the defamation of Dr. Lutz by negligently making unprivileged false and untruthful statements about his ethics, professionalism, misappropriation of public funds and the performance of his job,” the claim says.</p></p><p><p>Lutz was fired by Administrator Amelia Clark on Oct. 29, 2020, when she took his keys and district computer. He was fired formally by the Spokane Board of Health the following week.</p></p><p><p>Clark is the subject of a State Board of Health investigation with a hearing set for early in 2022 as a result of complaints made against her actions.</p></p><p><p>The Spokane Board of Health permanently hired Interim Health Officer Dr. Francisco Velázquez earlier this month.</p></p><p><p>Lutz details several of the tensions between himself, Clark and some Board of Health members in his claim that led up to his firing a year ago.</p></p><p><p>“I took a stand for Public Health. It cost me my job,” Lutz said in a statement released through his attorney. “As a public health physician, it has been my responsibility to protect the public’s health and safety. I have done so ethically and with integrity. The motives of others will not deter my advocacy. I will continue to stand for the public’s health.”</p></p><p><p><em></em></p></p>