Baltimore County must pay more than $500,000 in Blake case

Baltimore County must pay more than $500,000 in attorney's fees and court costs for a case involving a longtime police detective who won a lawsuit that claimed the county violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In an order filed Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Benson Everett Legg directed the county to pay more than $494,000 in attorney fees and nearly $18,000 in court costs. In 2010, the county lost the case to Detective William Blake, who said the county forced him to undergo unnecessary fitness-for-duty and medical exams a decade after he suffered a seizure, even though he had performed his job without incident since the episode.

Towson attorney Kathleen Cahill represented Blake, as well as the 10 people who were involved with the Department of Justice lawsuit. Part of the fees ordered by the judge will also go to attorney Michael F. Smith, whom Cahill brought in to handle an appeal of the Blake case.

The county had already been ordered to pay Blake $225,000 in damages and more than $19,000 in court costs, said Cole Weston, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 4.

Legg wrote that while the cost to the county is high, the case has "a silver lining."

"This case may ultimately avoid future litigation by providing guidance with respect to fitness-for-duty examinations," he wrote.

In August, the county agreed to pay about $500,000 to settle a lawsuit by the U.S. Department of Justice, which claimed the county had discriminated against 10 employees and job applicants in the police and fire departments, mostly based on medical condition.

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