Fired Sparks fire chief sues city and city manager

Mark Lawson
Mark Lawson(City of Sparks)
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 6:40 PM PDT
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SPARKS, Nev. (KOLO) -The former Sparks fire chief sued the city after it terminated him following news of his impending arrest on felony drug charges.

Mark Lawson had offered to settle with the city for $170,000. The Sparks City Council on Monday voted down that offer 3-2. The council countered with a $100,000 settlement.

Lawson attorney Jason Guinasso filed suit Tuesday in Washoe District Court seeking unspecified damages of more than $15,000.

The city hired Lawson as its new fire chief on Nov. 28 at a salary of $200,000 a year and benefits.

The city kept the right to fire Lawson with or without cause but must provide 30 days written notice and an opportunity to fix any problems, the lawsuit said. Also, the city must give Lawson 90 days notice to terminate him without cause, the lawsuit said, and include a severance package.

City Manager Neil Krutz fired Lawson on Dec. 5 and posted a YouTube video explaining the decision. Lawon was charged Dec. 9 with felonies related to bodybuilding drugs.

The lawsuit charges the city breached its contract with Lawson, did not deal with him fairly, that the city and Krutz defamed him and placed him in a false light. It also seeks punitive damages.

Julie Duewel, community relations manager for the city of Sparks, said the city could not comment on pending litigation.