Cincinnati Facing Lawsuit Concerning District Five

Feb 15, 2017

The widow of a Cincinnati police officer has filed a federal lawsuit against the city alleging the conditions at the District Five headquarters led to his death.  

The complaint said Robert McGuire worked for the Cincinnati Police Department for more than 12 years.  During that time, he was stationed at District Five, located at 1012 Ludlow Avenue.

Paula Hammer-McGuire's attorneys, in the complaint, state Robert McGuire contracted lung cancer as a result of exposure to toxic and hazardous substances at the police facility.  He died in January 2015.  He was 51-years-old.  

"The city of Cincinnati was aware of the presence of toxic and hazardous substances at District Five headquarters," the complaint stated. "The city of Cincinnati deliberately misrepresented the nature of the toxic and hazardous substances present in the building."

The lawsuit seeks damages of more than $25,000.

Cincinnati Council Member Charlie Winburn asked the city solicitor about the case Wednesday during the weekly council meeting.  

Solicitor Paula Boggs-Muething said the city had been served with the complaint and it concerned District Five.

"We don't really comment in public on pending litigation," Boggs-Muething said. "But if you'd like to setup a briefing with our litigator, I'd be happy to do that."

Winburn said he more legal cases are coming.

"That if there is an environmental or health problem there, it should be a wake-up call for us to really check it out and really stay on top of it," Winburn said.

Officers and others have been complaining about health concerns at District Five.  

The city has said environmental testing has shown the facility is safe.  

City officials are working on plans to relocate staff to a different building by May 2019.  The city manager has proposed renovating the old Permit Central Building at 3300 Central Parkway for District Five.

Some council members want that timeline accelerated.

Meanwhile, some personnel at District Five headquarters could be working at other facilities until a new building is ready.
 
"If any of those individuals would like to be temporarily reassigned to another district, that's fine by me," city manager Harry Black told a city council committee Monday. "And I don't believe the police chief has a problem with that as well. We're not talking about a lot of people here."

The temporary relocation would primarily affect employees who spend several hours a day inside the current headquarters.  That could include command staff, detectives and civilian employees.  Most officers report to the building before their shifts, but then are on patrol.