LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld a Sebastian County circuit judge’s dismissal of an Arkansas Whistle Blower Act lawsuit against the city of Fort Smith.
Addison Entmeier filed the suit against the city, former Fort Smith Police Chief Kevin Lindsey and police officers Brandon Bird, Chris Harris, Dewey Young, Gerald Schaefer and Chris Boyd Sr.
Entmeier alleged that he was fired in July 2013 in retaliation for accusing a dispatch supervisor, Emily Haney, the wife of Fort Smith police Capt. Alan Haney, of abuse of overtime.
A Sebastian County circuit judge dismissed the suit, finding that Entmeier relied on “innuendo and supposition” to support his claims and did not present facts to counter the defendants’ evidence that he was fired for poor job performance.
Entmeier argued on appeal that the judge improperly shifted the burden of proof onto him. In its opinion Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals disagreed, finding that the defendants presented an affirmative defense and that Entmeier failed to “meet proof with proof.”
“The circuit court determined as a matter of law that appellees had an affirmative defense to Entmeier’s claim and that his termination was due to poor job performance. Entmeier has failed to demonstrate the existence of a genuine issue of material fact that he was not terminated for poor job performance,” the court said in an opinion written by Judge Rita Gruber.
Entmeier also argued that the judge should have granted him more time to conduct discovery before ruling on the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. The Court of Appeals rejected that argument, noting that Entmeier failed to conduct any discovery for the first 18 months of the case.