Rockford Park District Lawsuit Partially Thrown Out; Parts Will Continue

A lawsuit filed by a Park District Police Officer is partially thrown out of court today.

The judge said the suit is too vague.

But the judge gives the officer a second chance to make his case.

The lawsuit filed by Park District Police Officer Todd Murr claims his work hours were cut after he revealed misconduct by a former Police Chief and lieutenant.

He said they mishandled evidence and covered up a drunken accident in a Park District squad car.

Judge Edward Prochaska praised Murr for doing his job, saying,

Officer Murr's actions in uncovering fraud and waste is commendable.

But he said the lawsuit didn't clearly identify who retaliated against who.

Murr's attorney says they will refocus the case with new information.

"An organizational chart which we've only discovered recently, in terms of who reports to who, some of the defendants we initially included, their involvement was minimal."

Prochaska dismissed the case against board member Tyler Smith. The Park District Police. And former Chief Jerry Venable and Lieutenant John Royster.

"This is not unusual for civil cases, and the reason for that is unlike a criminal case where you have a specific act that happens, this is a case of actions that began in November 2010."

But Prochaska gave Murr's attorney a second chance. Allowing them to amend the case and focus on the actions of executive director Tim Dimke, former interim Police Chief John Piccolin, another officer, and the Park District.

The Park District's attorney Gregory James says Monday's dismissal shows Murr's case is weak.

"I do not believe that the plaintiff is going to be ale to sate a case for action here, I do not think that they will be able to file a complaint that will withhold judicial scrutiny, because no retaliation occurred here."

And James says the Park District has another law on its side. A law that grants government bodies immunity from lawsuits stemming from scheduling conflicts.

"We appreciate the judges rulings, we think that he made the right decision, and we expect ultimately that we are going to prevail in this case."

The next hearing is set for March.

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