Fernandina Beach commissioners postpone fire department investigation over lawsuit concerns

Today’s post was shared by The Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group and comes from jacksonville.com

A proposal to have an independent investigation done into the Fernandina Beach Fire Department was put on the back burner this week by a divided City Commission because of concerns that it might interfere with a lawsuit that touches on some of the same issues.

On a 3-2 vote Tuesday, the commission postponed an investigation it had unanimously proposed two weeks earlier after advice from City Attorney Tammi Bach.

Robin Marley filed the Nov. 18 lawsuit after she was fired as the city’s human resources director, saying her dismissal violated Florida’s Whistleblower’s Act and came only after she voiced concerns over problems in the fire department.

On Feb. 3 the commission unanimously approved a motion to have the city attorney coordinate an investigation of the department’s command structure, staffing and operational efficiency by an independent consultant or retired fire professional. Bach said the city’s labor counsel then suggested an investigation could reveal personnel issues that will be part of Marley’s lawsuit when it comes to trial in about a year.

“There is no attorney-client privilege, and that’s what I told the commission,” Bach said. “… Our outside counsel, and I agree with him, said it would affect the city’s defense of this whistleblower case. Some of the same witnesses would be included in the investigation, and when you are defending a lawsuit, an unknown is not…

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