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Ex-cops suit tossed

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A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against the city of Lake Oswego, saying the police department rightly fired a former officer believed to be involved with drugs.

Bryan Witt, an officer in the Lake Oswego Police Department between 2001 and 2006, was fired from the police department after his supervisor determined he was untruthful about his past drug history, attended a party where marijuana was used and once tried to purchase cocaine while a police officer.

Those details were obtained through an internal investigation conducted by the Lake Oswego Police Department. No criminal charges were filed against Witt. He later lost his police officer certification from the state of Oregon based on the investigation's findings.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court April 19, 2007, Witt claimed he was wrongfully terminated by the Lake Oswego Police Department. He denied lying about his drug history and said he did not socialize with marijuana users. He said that the alleged cocaine purchase was a prank on a friend that was later misconstrued.

If officials falsely believed he was a drug addict, Witt charged, his firing would have violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

He sought compensation for lost wages, benefits and ongoing emotional harm. He also sought back pay, compensatory damages and attorney fees of at least $100,000.

On Nov. 12, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit, saying the Americans with Disabilities Act did not cover Witt in this case because no one in the Lake Oswego Police Department be-lieved he was 'substantially limited in any major life activity.'

Even if police department officials believed Witt had a disability, the claim would still fail according to the ruling by U.S. District Judge Ancer L. Haggerty.

'The record clearly indicates that (the city) terminated (Witt) because of his misconduct, not because of any perceived disability. Although individuals with substance abuse problems are protected by the ADA, courts have held that an employer need not allow an employee with a disability to engage in misconduct,' Ancer noted.

Glenn Soloman, attorney for Witt, said an appeal of the decision is under consideration.

Speaking for the city of Lake Oswego, City Attorney David Powell said he was satisfied the court made the right decision.