Ex-paramedic says he was forced out illegally


March 16, 2007

A former Baltimore County paramedic is accusing the county Fire Department of forcing him out of his job in retaliation for his complaints of racial discrimination in the agency.

In a lawsuit filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, former paramedic Dontay R. Paige also says that the department denied him disability payments because of his complaints.

The suit names as defendants Baltimore County government, the Fire Department and Fire Chief John J. Hohman.

A county government spokesman said the county does not comment on matters under litigation. A spokeswoman for the Fire Department and the fire chief declined to comment for the same reason.

Paige is seeking $1 million in actual damages for lost wages and benefits, mental anguish and other economic losses, and $1 million in punitive damages.

Paige, 33, of Baltimore was a county paramedic from 1994 to 2005, except for a period in 1997 when he was "illegally forced out" but reinstated under an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission settlement, according to the suit. In 2003, he began suffering from periodic coronary symptoms and was diagnosed with hypertension but continued to perform his job, the suit says.

In April 2005, Paige, who is black, filed an internal complaint with the department complaining of racial discrimination, the suit says. It provides no additional details of that complaint.

The department requested that Paige take a "workability evaluation" less than a month after he initiated the internal complaint, and in July 2005 he received notice that an independent medical evaluation had found him unfit for duty, according to the suit.

Paige then applied for disability retirement, but after seeing a second physician at the request of the Fire Department, he was found fit for duty and denied disability payments, according to the suit.

The suit calls the county's positions on the matter "patently inconsistent."

Nick Shields

School board

Senators favor electing 7 members

Baltimore County's state senators yesterday voted overwhelmingly in favor of a bill that would change the way the school board is selected by creating a panel of elected and appointed members.

The bill would create a board consisting of eight governor-appointed members - including a student representative - and seven who would be elected by County Council districts.

The delegation voted 6-2 in favor of Senate Bill 82, on the condition that it be amended to specify how to "phase out" by the 2010 election the four positions that are appointed at-large, said Sen. Bobby A. Zirkin, who introduced the measure.

The county's House delegation approved a companion bill last week.

"It shows a very strong feeling by the members of the delegation in the House and the Senate that our constituents want representation on the school board," said Zirkin, whose district includes Pikesville and Owings Mills.

He said the delegation also suggested that the amended bill require approval by the County Council and the governor for the appointed board members.

Zirkin said the Senate delegation will vote again on the amended bill, which he hopes to have drafted in the next few days.

Currently, the governor appoints the board's 11 adult members - who must be county residents - to serve five-year terms. Four members serve at large, and seven serve from council districts. The governor also appoints a student member, who is nominated by students and school officials, to a one-year term.

Gina Davis

Kidnapping, rape

Police issue photo of suspect

Baltimore County police issued yesterday a photograph of a man wanted in the kidnapping and rape of a 13-year-old girl in January.

A warrant has been issued charging Jose Elder Montufar, 28, in the Jan. 27 incident, police said.

The girl was at home with her younger brother in the Govans area of Baltimore while their mother was at the store, police said. Montufar, a family acquaintance, is accused of grabbing the girl when she answered a knock at the door, putting her into his car and taking her to his apartment, police said. The girl told police that she fell asleep while locked inside the apartment. After falling asleep, she was sexually assaulted and raped, police said.

Anyone with information about Montufar's whereabouts is asked to call county police at 410-307-2020 or Metro Crime Stoppers at 866-7-LOCKUP (866-756-2587). Those calling Metro Crime Stoppers may remain anonymous and might be eligible for a reward of up to $2,000.


Out-of-county students targeted

A Baltimore County councilman has renewed his push to inspect school records for evidence that students from out of the county might be going to class there, pointing to a letter from a county attorney this week supporting the council's right to view the information.

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