Berkeley County deputy files suit against sheriff

July 20, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A Berkeley County Sheriff's Department deputy claims in a lawsuit filed last month that his boss, Sheriff Kenneth M. Lemaster Jr., violated his privacy rights by forcing him to provide a urine sample for a "non-random drug screening test."

Lemaster Wednesday declined to comment about the civil action, which was filed June 29 in Berkeley County Circuit Court on behalf of Deputy Michael L. Buracker by attorney Barry P. Beck.

Lemaster said he had not reviewed the lawsuit and was unable to discuss personnel matters.

Berkeley County Council Attorney Norwood Bentley III said he reviewed the lawsuit, but he had not investigated Buracker's claims and declined to comment further.

Beck said in the lawsuit that his client was ordered by Lemaster on April 14 to submit to the drug test.

A superior officer escorted Buracker to University Health Associates' Business Health Services clinic to provide a urine sample for the test, according to the complaint.

The results of the drug screen were negative, according to the complaint.

Beck said his client was told that there was a "rumor" that the deputy used illegal drugs when he asked Lemaster why he was singled out for the test.

Buracker's attorney asked for a jury trial, and has asked the circuit court for a judgment against the defendants — Lemaster and the sheriff's department — for compensatory and punitive damages.

"The actions of Sheriff Lemaster were malicious, willful, wanton and in reckless disregard for the rights of Deputy Buracker," Beck said in the complaint.

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