Three long-time courthouse employees ousted last week by new Clerk of Circuit Court Mary M. Rose have filed a $6 million lawsuit to get their jobs back.
The employees contend Rose's actions were politically motivated revenge for their support of former clerk H. Erle Schafer, a Democrat defeated by Rose in the November general election.
The suit was filed Thursday in county Circuit Court, two days after Rose fired Carroll L. "Bunky" George II, the chief deputy clerk, and Bolton H. Rankin, an assistant chief deputy in charge of land records. The third employee, Donald C. Ward, the assistant chief deputy supervising courtroom clerks, had been offered a demotion -- and a paycut of about $10,000 -- but refused the offer and resigned "under duress," the suit states.
Rose took action last week after receivingthe go-ahead from Robert C. Murphy, chief judge of the state Court of Appeals and local administrative judges. She had asked the three men for their resignations immediately after taking office in December,but the men fought the request, arguing that all personnel moves hadto be approved by Murphy.
Rose, who had questioned the competenceof the employees, sent reports on them to Murphy, apparently convincing him they should go. In the suit, the employees complain they weregiven no chance to respond to Rose's criticisms and that Murphy based his decision on Rose's "incomplete and false information."
In the suit, filed by Annapolis attorney Alan H. Legum, the men claim Rose's actions have caused them extreme embarrassment and humiliation, mental distress, high blood pressure and loss of income.
Rose declined to comment on the suit.
George, 54, had worked at the courthouse for 29 years, the last four as chief deputy under Schafer. He had earned $47,881 as chief deputy.
Rankin, 50, had worked at the courthouse for 30 years, rising to a salary of about $36,000. Ward, 53, who had worked at the courthouse for 23 years, also earned about $36,000 a year.
In the suit, the men ask for $1 million each in actual damages, $1 million each in punitive damages and reinstatement in their former jobs. They have requested a jury trial.