FORT WAYNE – In February, a former employee at the Maysville Regional Sewer and Water District sued the district, alleging she was wrongfully fired for being a whistleblower.
Last week, attorneys for the sewer and water district filed their response, saying Brookie Biglands was at fault for any damages she suffered and that she never reported anything in writing to her supervisor.
Biglands accused the district of violating Indianas whistleblower statutes by firing her after she failed to follow orders by James Perrin, her former boss and now-felon, and testifying against him in court.
In December, Perrin pleaded guilty to corrupt business influence. He admitted to diverting wastewater around a meter, costing Fort Wayne tens of thousands of dollars. In exchange for his plea, an additional charge of theft was dismissed.
According to court documents, Biglands worked for the regional water and sewer district as a clerk beginning in February 2007.
In May, the Indiana State Board of Accounts revealed in its annual audit that Perrin had been intentionally diverting the wastewater on a periodic basis from late 2007 until the end of 2010 by using a bypass valve.
Along with refusing Perrins demands she participate in his scheme, Biglands said she also reported his behavior to her superiors, verbally and in writing.
She alleges that her termination last August violated her constitutionally protected rights to free speech.
However, through their attorneys, officials with the Maysville Regional Sewer and Water District say they did no such thing.
According to court documents, they deny that any speech – public or private, protected or not – was behind the decision to fire her.
Maysville officials contend that Biglands is at fault for any damage she may have suffered.
They also argue board President Judy James cannot be sued under Biglands claims because what James did does not violate any clearly established legal or constitutional rights that a reasonable person would have known, according to court documents.
The Maysville Regional Sewer and Water Districts decision to fire Biglands was based on non-discriminatory business reasons not connected to any of her activities, according to court documents.