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Former Iowa Corrections Employee Files Whistleblower Lawsuit

Jul 18, 2017

A Lee County man is accusing the state of Iowa of firing him from his job in the Department of Corrections for being a whistleblower.

Ray Crutcher sued the state and the Iowa Department of Correctional Services for Wrongful Discharge from Employment/Retaliatory and Violation of Whistleblower Status.  He is seeking past, present, and future lost wages, attorney’s fees, and additional compensation as deemed "just and equitable" by the court.

Crutcher filed the lawsuit in south Lee County District Court. In it, he said he was fired on April 14, 2016 after nearly 33 years on the job. It does not list where Crutcher worked or what position he held.

Per the lawsuit:

“Prior to being terminated from his employment, the Plaintiff [Crutcher] informed his supervisors that the correctional facility where the Plaintiff was employed did not provide the necessary protection for the guards at the facility. After making the allegation that the correctional facility was not providing the appropriate protection or staffing of the guards at the facility, the Plaintiff was terminated from his employment.”

“During the course of his employment, the Plaintiff made disclosures of information to members of the Iowa Department of Correctional Service, public officials, law enforcement authorities and others indicating that the Plaintiff believed that employees of the Iowa Department of Correctional Services had engaged in violations of rules of the state of Iowa, mismanagement, a gross abuse of funds and abuse of authority and substantial and specific danger to public health and safety.”

Crutcher claims that those disclosures should have protected his employment status per Iowa Codes 70A.28 and 70A.29.

State Response

The state and the Department of Correctional Services are trying to have the case thrown out. They claim in their motion to dismiss that that Crutcher “failed to properly effectuate service of the original notice within 90 days of the filing of his petition of law.”

“Plaintiff [Crutcher] has not, and cannot, show good cause for the delay in service in this action. The petition at law was filed Feb. 6, 2017, meaning service had to occur on or before May 8, 2017. On May 8, 2017, Plaintiff filed an Affidavit of Mailing, stating a copy of the petition at law and original notice were sent via certified mail to the Attorney General’s Office. However, no personal service was ever effectuated on the State of Iowa at the Attorney General’s Office.”

The state claims instead Crutcher served the Lee County Attorney with the lawsuit.

“Plaintiff was required to serve Defendants [State & IDCS] within ninety days of filing the petition. He did not do so. Instead, he served the Lee County Attorney, who does not represent either the State of Iowa or the Iowa Department of Correctional Services in this matter. Nor does the Lee County Attorney have the authority to accept service on behalf of Defendants. Plaintiff could easily have served Defendants at the Attorney General’s Office in Des Moines – a location he was obviously aware of given the fact he mailed a copy of the petition to the same address – but did not do so.”

Crutcher’s attorney responded to the state’s motion to dismiss, arguing that his client followed state code in serving the state and the Department of Correctional Services notice and that the lawsuit should be allowed to proceed.

No hearing date has been set for the lawsuit or the motion to dismiss.