Fired health department employee files suit

By Anthony Conchel - The Sentinel

MOUNT GILEAD — Former Environmental Health Director Brian Benick has filed a $72 million lawsuit in Morrow County Common Pleas Court, alleging wrongful termination last year.

A disagreement concerning a residential sewage system was reportedly at the center of the issue. The Morrow County Board of Health voted 4-1 to terminate Benick at a meeting last November.

In the lawsuit, filed May 17, names 44 defendants including the Morrow County Health District, Morrow County Board of Health, County Health Commissioner Pamela Butler, Prosecutor Charles Howland, three Morrow County Commissioners and all villages and townships within the county.

Benick contends he was originally terminated March 19, 2018 and then reinstated April 3. He was placed on administrative leave July 2, 2018 until his termination Nov. 19, 2018.

He also claims that he was “illegally paid” while on leave “using his accumulated vacation time.”

Benick also states he was “never reprimanded or received one single written violation of wrongdoing committed by him during his entire 8.5 years of employment at MCHD.”

The 24-page suit alleges several county officials committed wrongful acts, including “illegal retaliation and harassment,” “tampering with evidence” and “perjury.”

He says he has multiple debt from “hiring an attorney and for receiving his medical treatment because of the pain and suffering inflicted by the deliberate actions of the defendants.”

Benick claims in the suit that he is on Medicaid and food stamps; and has not received any income in 2019. He is struggling to pay his monthly utility bills, he claims.

He contends he suffers from depression and anxiety. He said he had “done an excellent job for 33 years in his chosen profession.”

By Anthony Conchel

The Sentinel