Police Chief Lawsuit Settlement Rejected

The Ishpeming City Council has reversed course on a possible settlement of a lawsuit filed by its police chief.

Just last week, the City Council voted to negotiate a settlement of Chief Jim Bjorne’s lawsuit against the city.

It would have dismissed a discrimination claim he filed in exchange for a transfer of service time that would allow him to retire with a full pension.

Mayor Pat Scanlon says City Manager Jered Ottenwess and city attorney David Savu have been working very hard on the settlement papers, but the proposal has been rejected.

Councilors Elaine Racine, Claudia Demarest and Mike Tall voted against the settlement.

Scanlon and John Stone voted in favor of it.

For the time being, Chief Bjorne’s discrimination claim will go forward.

He worked for the Marquette County Sheriff’s Department before coming to the city of Ishpeming.

Earlier this year, Bjorne asked the council to allow a transfer of his 3-plus years of service time with the Sheriff’s Department to his city tenure.

If that transfer were to have taken place, Chief Bjorne would have been eligible for retirement with a full pension back in April, when he turned 50.

However, in March, the City Council rejected the transfer request.

Bjorne sued the city, claiming other city employees have been allowed to make similar transfers in the past.

Chief Bjorne says it’s widely known that he’s suffered from a degenerative spine condition for about 15 years — he’s had spinal surgery 4 times since turning 35.

He says the spine condition has advanced to the point where he’s no longer able to perform all the job duties of the chief position.

Uncertainty over Chief Bjorne’s medical condition has forced the City Council to place a police chief search on hold.