A Carroll County sheriff's deputy filed a $500,000 lawsuit yesterday against Sheriff John H. Brown, alleging that the sheriff unfairly demoted him in 1993 after he won a court-ordered reinstatement.
Sgt. Paul F. Nolte Jr. alleges in the suit, filed in Anne Arundel Circuit Court, that he was fired March 27, 1992, after 19 years on the job in retaliation for backing the sheriff's opponent, Sam Sensabaugh, in the 1990 election.
He filed suit July 16, 1992, in Carroll County Circuit Court to win his job back and was reinstated Feb. 19, 1993, in an order issued by Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Eugene M. Lerner after the suit was transferred to that county.
In the separate suit filed yesterday, Sergeant Nolte claimed that after he was reinstated, he was transferred by Sheriff Brown to the county detention center and put in a job that was a demotion.
"In one instance, subsequent to his reinstatement as aforesaid, Plaintiff was required to report to and be supervised by a Corporal," the new lawsuit says.
The suit alleges that Sergeant Nolte was demoted in retaliation for winning the court order that required his reinstatement. It asks that Sergeant Nolte be awarded $500,000 in damages.
"His major complaint was that he was working in the detention center, and he's a certified police officer, and he feels it was not an appropriate position for his experience or qualifications," said Glen M. Fallin, the deputy's lawyer.
Sheriff Brown said yesterday that he transferred Sergeant Nolte to the jail because he was needed there.
The sheriff said Sergeant Nolte never lost any pay, has been awarded back pay for the 10 months he was out of work and has since been transferred back to the Sheriff's Services Division, where he earns $35,606 a year doing regular police work.
"He wasn't demoted at all," Sheriff Brown said. "I think that what it is, is a matter of interpretation."
Mr. Fallin acknowledged that, since Sergeant Nolte was transferred back to the Sheriff's Services Division in July 1994, he has been satisfied with his assignment.
"He's perfectly happy doing what he's doing now," Mr. Fallin said.
The lawyer said the new suit seeks damages for injuries resulting from the 1992 dismissal and the 17 months in the jail job.
Mr. Fallin acknowledged that the sergeant never lost any pay but said that does not matter.
"A person can be demoted without losing pay," he said. "If there's a diminution of responsibility or level of supervisory duties, that's also a demotion."