Both sides in the federal lawsuit brought against the Village of River Forest by two police officers won a battle and lost a battle recently.

On Nov. 29, 2006, three separate lawsuits against the village by Lt. Craig Rutz and Sgt. Thomas Ludvik were consolidated and reassigned to Judge Joan B. Gottschall. On Oct. 25, Gottschall dismissed one of the suits, granting the village’s motion for summary judgment in a False Claims Act suit. That suit claimed the police department had defrauded the federal government of $52,000 in federal BADGE grant funds, and had engaged in retaliatory behavior against Rutz for raising concerns.

Gottschall ruled that if there were any false representations to the federal government regarding the federal funds, they were not made.

“Absent the making of a false claim in the form of a request or a demand for federal money, there can be no action under the [False Claims Act],” Gottschall wrote.

She also ruled that the claims of retaliation were moot due to the statute of limitations having run out.

On Nov. 2, Gottschall denied a motion by the village to disallow expert testimony and an economic damages analysis conducted by that expert, Dr. Robert Von der Ohe. Though Rutz and Ludvik will be allowed to present the testimony, Gottschall imposed a tight time frame on getting the report to the village’s attorneys.

“Plaintiffs’ expert report will be permitted to stand but all materials that should be disclosed must be disclosed no later than Nov. 15,” Gottschall ruled.

The two remaining suits-both for age discrimination and retaliation-are now scheduled to go to trial on Jan. 14, 2008. The two sides were engaged in a tentative settlement process in October prior to dismissal of the False Claims suit and the rescheduling of the trial.

-Bill Dwyer

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