Correction: A closer reading of the complaint reveals that Kapler is in fact claiming $4 million in damages – $2 million for general damages to his reputation and $2 million in special damages. See items 81 and 82 in the claim, below.
On April 14th, former Alameda Fire Chief David Kapler filed a lawsuit against the City of Alameda, and others, for wrongful termination, breach of contract, defamation and other causes, over his dismissal from the City of Alameda late last year. In his complaint, among other allegations, Kapler alleges that Alameda City Councilmember Lena Tam “conspired with members of the firefighter’s union to wrongfully” terminate him. He further alleges that Lena Tam attempted to coerce then-Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant to terminate him without good cause. Kapler is claiming
$2 million $4 million in damages.
Kapler had originally filed a claim for damages with the City of Alameda on January 7th, 2011, which was rejected by the City. Such a claim is a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit in court.
The former fire chief claims that he was pushed out of his job after photographs surfaced in the local press showing him gassing up his personal BMW coupe with city-purchased gas at a filling station at the main Alameda firehouse; Kapler claims he had a verbal agreement with former City Manager Debra Kurita that allowed him to use city gas for either of his personal vehicles, in lieu of a monthly car allowance. Now, he has named the City of Alameda, as well as Lena Tam, Debra Kurita and Ann Marie Gallant, both individually and in their official capacities, in his lawsuit. He also acknowledges in the suit that at the time, his salary was in excess of $195,000 per year.
Kapler has also brought up the allegations of misconduct against Lena Tam earlier in 2010, writing in his complaint, “Plaintiff [Kapler] is informed and believes that [Lena] Tam regularly communicated confidential information Plaintiff and others discussed in closed session regarding proposed budget cuts to impacting IAFF 689 members, in violation of Brown Act which motivated the union to pressure the council to find a reason to get rid of Plaintiff at any cost.”
Further, Kapler wrote, “Plaintiff is informed and believes that IAFF contributed to Tam’s campaign and Tam in return blew the issue of gas out of proportion so that it could be used as a basis to get rid of plaintiff and pushed the [Alameda City] Council via threats and intimidation to terminate Plaintiff.” IAFF Local 689 is the union local representing Alameda firefighters.
The case is HG-11570933 in Alameda County Superior Court. Kapler’s January claim against the City of Alameda, and his complaint, are reproduced below.