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‘Litigation nation’ means saying ‘Sorry’ carefully

March 21, 2012
Gary Andersen, Lee Smith , Fairmont Sentinel

The situation involving Truman police officer Mike Schutz is troubling on several fronts. Schutz is now back at work in the wake of complaints filed by him alleging unfair treatment related to his role as a U.S. veteran and city employee.

Schutz served his country overseas and wanted his full-time job back when he returned to Truman. Instead, he was hired part time, prompting his filing a complaint under the Veterans Reemployment Act. After he did so, Truman alleged Schutz did not fill out his timecard properly, resulting in him being placed on administrative leave. The timecard issue involved an alleged 3.5 hours. An investigation by an outside agency found there was actually just 1 hour and 45 minutes of inaccuracies.

Schutz had filed a second complaint alleging retaliation by the city.

After a year of all this, Schutz got his job back Monday. And he wanted something else:?An apology from the city.

We can understand how he feels. And several Truman City Council members did actually apologize. But that is not something an attorney would recommend the city do. In this day and age, simple personal relationships that amount to treating people right are inadvisable. Our society is far too litigious. There are, frankly, too many ways for people to sue, over too many issues. An apology can be equated to guilt, and that can mean a big cash judgment.

We like that Truman officials said they were sorry. But we hope taxpayers understand that they will be on the hook if too many officials start doing the same. We hope there are few, if any, similar situations for our area elected officials to deal with in coming years. Getting things right to begin with will go a long way, as will forging good working relationships with those whom they employ.



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