DEPUTY JEFFREY LUTZ, EATON COUNTY SHERIFF DEPARTMENT, MARCH 20, 2006 : Shot self
Officer Lutz's world was crumbling around him. He had been in crisis since a shoot out in 2004.
During an exchange of gun fire in a hostage situation, one of Lutz's bullets hit a pregnant waitress. Both the waitress and the baby survived, but Officer Lutz never forgave himself. He kept reaching out for help over the next couple of years...and it was obvious, even to those on the force that he was in crisis and he appeared suicidal.
In addition to apparently suffering from Post Traumatic Stress, Lutz's marriage was crumbling. There were alligations of his wife's alcohol and drug abuse.
A Lt. at the Eaton County SD, noted that prior to Lutz shooting himself, that he believed Lutz's world was "unraveling"...but he did nothing. In February 2006, Deputy Lutz had to bail his ex-wife out of jail. On March 9th, he learned that his ex-wife was under investigation by both the East Lansing PD and his own department for drugs.
On March 20th, while on duty, Deputy Lutz shot himself. A failed suicide attempt? A cry for help?
STATE OF MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND ECONOMIC GROWTH
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION AGENCY
BOARD OF MAGISTRATES APRIL 10, 2008
SS# XXX-XX- XXX,
PLAINTIFF VS.EATON COUNTY, SELF-INSURED,
Paula Olivarez (P#38947) for Plaintiff.
Michael Sanders (P#35648) for Defendant.OPINION
STATEMENT OF CLAIM:
On September 12, 2006, the Bureau received an Application filed by Plaintiff alleging injury dates of September 11, 1996, October 2004, and March 20, 2006 as a last day of employment. The Plaintiff further alleged that the stress of employment caused disability.
At the time of the trial in this matter, it was stipulated that both the employer and employee were subject to the Act on the date of injury alleged and that Defendant as a self-insured carried that risk. It was also stipulated that Plaintiff was in the employ of Defendant at the time of the alleged personal injury.
It was denied that a personal injury arose out of and in the course of employment.
Notice and claim were admitted for all dates of injury, with the exception of claim being denied as to the September 11, 1996 date of injury.
The gross wage was stipulated to be $1,099.74 for the October 2004 injury date.
The March 2006 injury date was stipulated to be $1.159.25. There was no dual employment. It was denied that any disability is due to the alleged personal injury.
IRS filing status and dependency was left to proofs.
WITNESSES TESTIFYING PERSONALLY: Plaintiff:
Jeffery Lutz, Plaintiff
State Representative Rick Jones, former sheriff of Eaton County.
Jeffery Warder, lieutenant for Eaton County Sheriff Department.
1. Employment awards and accommodations.
3. Sparrow Hospital records.
4. Records of Dr. Sigal.
5. Records of Psych Appraisal Associates.
6. Video tape of a news broadcast from WILX News 10 on April 12, 2006.
7. Deposition of Alton Kirk, Ph.D., taken January 4, 2008.
A. Deposition testimony of Harvey Ager, M.D., taken February 8, 2007.
B. Legal documents related to Plaintiff’s divorce proceedings.
C. Various emails from Defendant to his ex-wife.
D. Judgment of sentence relative to Plaintiff.
The trial in this matter was held on February 4, 2008 and February 22, 2008. The first to testify on behalf on Plaintiff was State Representative Rick Jones.
Representative Jones worked for 31 years in the Eaton County Sheriff Department, retiring as sheriff of Eaton County. Representative Jones testified that Plaintiff was a good police officer, and had been promoted to detective because of his ability to do good job as an officer. Representative Jones worked with Plaintiff for 12 years.
Representative Jones testified regarding an incident that occurred at Red Robin Restaurant in October 2004.
At that time, a police officer looking for a specific felon observed this felon driving a car. A chase ensued, and the felon fled through the Red Robin Restaurant on West Saginaw in Lansing. The felon tried to escape by taking a pregnant waitress out the back door with a gun to her head. This felon was suspected of murder.
A gun battle occurred between the police officers at Red Robin, including Plaintiff. Shots were fired and the waitress was hit in the hip by Plaintiff's bullet. The source of the bullet was not determined until sometime later.
According to Representative Jones, as a routine, officers that are involved in traumatic events such as this are released from duty and given assistance from a psychiatrist or psychologist until they are allowed to return to work. There is also a debriefing done at that time. Therefore, this was done with Plaintiff. His weapon was also taken per routine.
Representative Jones retired as the sheriff of Eaton County on December 31, 2004, prior to being sworn in as a state representative for the district he now represents.
Mr. Jones was not able to recall exactly when Plaintiff returned to work. He did indicate that Plaintiff had a couple of psychiatric sessions, and that it took several weeks to determine that it was Plaintiff's weapon that struck the waitress in the hip.
According to Representative Jones, he has seen Plaintiff on a couple of occasions since this incident occurred.
He ran into Plaintiff at Frank’s Press Box, a local bar/restaurant where Plaintiff's now ex-wife worked at the time.
He saw Plaintiff on two occasions at Frank’s Press Box.
According to Representative Jones, Plaintiff was very distraught and tearful and seemed remorseful regarding the event that occurred at Red Robin.
Representative Jones advised Plaintiff that it was necessary that Plaintiff fire the bullet. The waitress and her baby survived and that it was a good ending. At that point, Representative Jones told the Eaton County Sheriff Department to make sure that Plaintiff got psychological help.
Representative Jones spoke with Captain Wessels and Captain McPhail regarding the matter.
On cross-examination, Representative Jones indicated that he never saw psychiatric records indicating that Plaintiff could return to work on December 6, 2004.
Representative Jones also testified that he would never have forced someone back to work before they were ready.
Furthermore, Representative Jones testified that he was not present at Red Robin when the gun shooting incident occurred, but rather he got there shortly thereafter.
Also, Representative Jones is aware that Plaintiff was convicted of a felony, namely shooting himself intentionally, and filing a false report.
Representative Jones indicated that Plaintiff is not eligible to be hired as a deputy because of his felony record.
Representative Jones also admitted that he recommended Plaintiff hire his current attorney Paula Olivarez after running into him at Davis Buick/Pontiac where Plaintiff now works.
Plaintiff testified in this matter, Plaintiff testified that he is currently single, and has partial custody of his two daughters and son. He sees his two daughters every other weekend and on Tuesday nights and his son on a more regular basis.
Plaintiff graduated from Grand Ledge High School in 1988.
After graduating high school, Plaintiff worked for his father as an electrician. Plaintiff had to pull wires and crawl through tunnels as an electrician’s helper which he did for one and half years.
After that, Plaintiff joined the Army where he worked full time, and then in the reserves one weekend per month for eight years.
Plaintiff was in the military police division of the Army.
In approximately 1990, Plaintiff worked in the Lansing city assessor’s office getting information door-to- door and taking measurements.
Next, Plaintiff went to work for Brown Corporation in Ionia as a laborer. He eventually became a crew leader and worked there until 1992.
In 1992, Plaintiff went to work for Defendant.
First, Plaintiff worked as a corrections officer in the jail for approximately two years.
Then, Plaintiff went to the police academy at LCC and he eventually became a road patrol deputy for Defendant.
Plaintiff always worked out of the Delta Township branch of the Eaton County Sheriff Department.
Plaintiff’s shift was from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. He worked on the road patrol for eight to ten years.
Plaintiff indicated that he had to respond to numerous fatal accidents which affected him somewhat, but he did not go to counseling because he felt he was supposed to be “strong and confident”.
Next, Plaintiff worked as a detective for Defendant. This included Plaintiff getting a pay raise, as well as having a car to take home. Plaintiff’s main job was to investigate child abuse and rape charges. Plaintiff would have to testify in these cases. Captain Fred McPhail of Defendant was his supervisor. Plaintiff worked about 150 to 200 cases per year. Eventually, Plaintiff made a decision to stop doing that type of work due to the level of stress, and started to work as a sergeant on the road patrol.
Plaintiff described his job as a road patrol sergeant as monitoring other deputies.
Plaintiff did this job for approximately three years, through his last day of work with Defendant.
Plaintiff also discussed an incident that occurred in September 1996, when he was shot while serving a search warrant. Plaintiff was the “point man”, or the first individual to go into the home. Plaintiff was struck in the left shoulder, (in his bullet proof vest) by a resident of the home where he was entering.
Plaintiff returned fire. He then took cover behind a wood pile. He had a debriefing following this event, and went to a psychologist who told him to relax and not to dwell on it.
Plaintiff was off work for three weeks and then returned to work, but did not “feel himself”.
Eventually, Plaintiff was advised to make a traffic stop to get him back into the routine of dealing
with the public.
Although Plaintiff continued to have some visions from time to time of the shooting event in 1996, he eventually did get back to full duty.
Plaintiff also testified about the Red Robin incident in October 2004.
According to Plaintiff, this involved two fugitives wanted for double homicide in Lansing. These fugitives were pulled over in a service drive near Red Robin Restaurant. The suspects got out of the car. Plaintiff observed these individuals running into Red Robin, and drove to the front of the restaurant with the car.
According to Plaintiff, when the two suspected felons ran into the restaurant, Plaintiff took cover outside the restaurant and heard shots being fired in the restaurant. Plaintiff ran around to the back of the building.
Next, Plaintiff observed two individuals with children coming out of the restaurant.
Then two young girls came out and Plaintiff ran them to the patrol car. He then returned to the back of the building and Plaintiff observed the waitress with the fugitive in the parking lot. The fugitive had a gun to the waitress’ head.
According to Plaintiff, the alleged felon pointed a gun at Plaintiff and started walking towards a van.
Shots were fired by Plaintiff and other police officers as well as the suspect.
Apparently, Plaintiff dragged the waitress twenty feet to safety. Once the suspect had been secured, Plaintiff notified Lieutenant Warder that he had discharged his weapon. Someone drove Plaintiff back to the station at Delta Township.
Throughout the next week, Plaintiff said there were lots of ups and downs, with him being the hero one minute, the next minute being advised that his bullet may have the hit the waitress.
Plaintiff testified that two days before this event in October 2004, Plaintiff’s wife was pulled over by another deputy at Defendant.
Plaintiff's wife was drunk and with another man. Plaintiff was advised of this matter, and Plaintiff went home to confront his wife.
At that time, Plaintiff’s wife admitted making out with him but not having sexual intercourse.
Plaintiff further testified that within 24 hours after the Red Robin incident, the psychological debriefing occurred with Dr. Gallagher.
There were about ten people at this meeting, including other officers involved.
Plaintiff had two more follow ups with Dr. Gallagher after that one about one week later, and then one thirty days later.
Plaintiff testified that he went and saw the prosecutor Jeff Sauter and that Mr. Sauter advised Plaintiff not to leave police work. According to Plaintiff, he cried in Mr. Sauter’s office for over one hour.
Plaintiff then returned to work, and shortly thereafter met with the waitress who had been shot by Plaintiff's weapon at Red Robin. Plaintiff gave his return to work date as December 6, 2004.
By 2005, Plaintiff indicated that he was not doing well. He started to isolate himself and did not go to social gatherings with other officers on his days off.
He testified that he was easily agitated, felt incompetent, could not focus, and stopped working overtime on his scheduled days off which was quite unusual. He sold his lawn care business that he had for three years.
With respect to his marriage, Plaintiff testified that he had married his wife Jamie Lutz in March 2000. He classified the marriage as always being a “roller coaster” and in 2005 the marriage was “okay”.
According to Plaintiff, his wife liked to stay out late. She worked at Frank’s Press Box three to four days per week. She also worked 32 hours a week at Capital Harley, a motorcycle dealership.
Plaintiff indicated that he tried to have at least one night out per week with his wife.
In the summer of 2005, Plaintiff was “making it” but burning up a lot of time off because he did not enjoy working. He was snippy with his co-workers, and his peers advised him that was being too relaxed with the deputies.
Plaintiff testified that he began to feel like a “black sheep” or an “oddball”.
Plaintiff was very jumpy and/or tired much of the time.
He also testified that he had nightmares which were getting worse. He would also go and sit in the Red Robin parking lot and stare at the post where a bullet was removed. At other times, Plaintiff would avoid going by Red Robin entirely.
With respect to his marriage, he indicated that by the summer of 2005 his wife was drinking too much. His own drinking varied.
According to Plaintiff, he was pulled over six times in a four month time period for driving erratically or going too fast, but he was never given a ticket.
Plaintiff testified that as a result of the Red Robin incident, he felt he had a problem but he was strong enough to work through it.
Plaintiff did not go back to his psychologist, because he felt that any information that he would give a psychologist hired by the county would get back to the department and Captain Wessels specifically.
Plaintiff testified that his family doctor at the time was Dr. Van Angt. He received medication such as Xanex and other medications but he only took them for about 30 days. He said that these medications did not make him feel better.
In October 2005, Plaintiff filed for a divorce.
According to Plaintiff, his wife refused to go to marriage counseling or get help with her drinking, and he felt that he had no choice left but to divorce her.
On November 1, 2005, after Plaintiff was living in a hotel for a week, his wife moved out of the marital home, and he moved in with the children. He said the next few months went well.
In February 2006, his wife was arrested for drunk driving.
Plaintiff had also been advised that his wife, Jamie, had been dancing on stage at Omar’s Show Bar and that she had been drinking excessively. Plaintiff got Jamie out of jail the next day on February 8, 2006.
Plaintiff next testified about an event shortly after her arrest wherein Plaintiff grabbed a shot gun off of a shelf, and appeared to be suicidal.
Plaintiff's wife advised Lieutenant Warder at Defendant regarding this event, and Lieutenant Warder suggested that Plaintiff contact his family doctor and get a referral to a psychiatrist.
It was around this time that Plaintiff was losing a significant amount of weight, and frequently going home for naps during his scheduled shifts.
Plaintiff described having anxiety attacks wherein he could not breathe, and felt his heart coming out of his chest as well as having sweats and shakes. Plaintiff had visions of the Red Robin incident concurrent with this symptoms.
On March 20, 2006, Plaintiff testified that he was having a bad day including racing thoughts, hopelessness and suicidal ideations. He indicated that he had lost about 50pounds at that point, going down to 158 from his customary healthy 205 pounds.
On March 20, 2006, Plaintiff stopped a speeding drunk driver going down Waverly Road.
He then ate at the Old Country Buffet with the other deputies on his shift.
Next, Plaintiff remembers being suicidal, going home and sleeping, then feeling better and being extremely bored.
Plaintiff could not remember shooting himself in the arm. He did recall struggling with a suspect at a gas station. They were struggling over the suspect’s gun. According to Plaintiff, the suspect shot at Plaintiff twice, striking him once in the arm. The suspect ran away.
This occurred behind a Clark gas station on West Saginaw in Lansing.
According to Plaintiff at the time of the trial in this matter, he indicated “those are my memories…I’m not saying it’s the facts”.
At that time, back up arrived and Plaintiff was taken to the hospital.
Plaintiff was only at the hospital for about 1½ hours, and next he went back to the office and met with Detective Herrold. He was driven home by Deputy Phillion and gave a statement to detectives at noon the next day. He also went to Dr. Gallagher along with Deputies Ivy and Phillion.
According to Plaintiff, he told Dr. Gallagher that he had given all that he could give, and that he was not able to do the job anymore.
According to Plaintiff, he was “crying like crazy”. He saw Dr. Gallagher one more time after that. Dr. Gallagher took Plaintiff off work and told Plaintiff to “tie one on and just relax”.
Plaintiff next requested to go to Community Mental Health in early April 2006.
This request was granted, and Plaintiff was sent there.
According to Plaintiff, the State Police also interviewed him before he went Community Mental Health. He was sent there under an involuntary commitment proceeding.
Plaintiff testified that he does not know where the gun was that was used in the shooting behind the Clark gas station.
Sergeant Jungel’s shell casings were found at the scene.
According to Plaintiff, he had Deputy Jungel’s gun after the March 2006 shooting event but he was not able to explain how Deputy Jungel’s gun got to the scene.
Plaintiff was unable to testify as to whether someone shot him or he shot himself.
After one week with this gun, Plaintiff testified that he returned it to Sergeant Jungel, but he returned it in pieces because he had spilled Mountain Dew on it and he was not able to properly clean it and put it back together.
According to Plaintiff, he was locked up at Community Mental Health for 72 hours, and then he volunteered for a program at St. Lawrence campus of Sparrow Hospital through their outpatient mental health program from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. each day for two weeks.
Currently, Plaintiff treats with Dr. Kirk once per week.
Following these events, Plaintiff was charged with two felonies: malicious destruction of squad car, and filing a false police report. He was also charged with two misdemeanors: a reckless discharge of firearm, and false reporting to the 911 operator.
Following the one year long criminal process, Plaintiff was found guilty on all four counts and was sentenced to five years probation four years community service, 60 days in jail with work release, as well as $49,000 restitution fine.
Currently, Plaintiff is finished with his jail sentence, and resigned from Defendant on October 1, 2006.
Plaintiff began to work for Davis Pontiac selling new and used cars.
He his scheduled 60 hours per week, but receives commission. His minimum draw is $500per week, and there were weeks where he received as much as $1800.
According to Plaintiff, his W-2 in 2007 showed income of $34,000.
Plaintiff testified that he has looked for other work and has posted his resume on Michigan Works. He is not confident that his job at Davis Pontiac will last much longer due to financial problems there.
Plaintiff currently sees a psychologist weekly (Dr. Kirk) and a psychiatrist once a month for medicine management.
Plaintiff continues to have nightmares as a result of his working with Defendant.
According to Plaintiff, he currently has difficulty remembering things.
Plaintiff also testified that his ex-wife Jamie has been investigated for cocaine related issues first in East Lansing, and then with the Eaton County Sheriff Department.
Plaintiff testified that currently he is able to do anything on “good days”.
However, when he has bad or mediocre days he has to sleep, and is not able to work at all on those days.
Plaintiff testified that he only has about two good days per week.
On cross-examination, Plaintiff testified that his evaluations were always exemplary through March 2006.
Plaintiff also admitted that he, too, had been unfaithful in his marriage.
On cross-examination, Plaintiff testified that he received no counseling whatsoever between December 2004 and through October 19, 2005.
On February 14, 2006, Plaintiff presented to his family physician with a history of stress and depression and that his “wife has gone crazy, not taking care of kids, dancing at Omar’s, doing the 26 year old drug pusher.”
Plaintiff gave no history whatsoever of problems in dealing with the Red Robin event.
Plaintiff testified that he had gone to the doctor for the purpose of referral for a therapist.
Also, Plaintiff indicated that the issue involving his ex-wife and a cocaine related investigation occurred on March 9, 2006.
The shooting incident at the Clark gas station occurred on March 20, 2006.
Plaintiff's divorce was made final in August of 2007, after the conviction for the crimes he had been charged with.
Plaintiff testified that he is no longer eligible to work as a deputy due to these felony convictions.
According to Plaintiff, Dr. Kirk was to engage in hypnotherapy with him. Plaintiff indicated that he is too scared to be hypnotized currently.
He is “waiting for his criminal case to be over so that he can testify honestly and truthfully”.
Furthermore, on cross-examination, Plaintiff indicated that he had a bad day before he was admitted to St. Lawrence and gave a history regarding divorce and stress over his children, and a man at his wife’s house that should not have been there.
He gave a denial regarding shooting himself.
According to Plaintiff, there was video surveillance taken of the place and time in which he claims to have been shot behind the Clark gas station. This does not show any evidence of shooting. He also indicated that his memory of the shooting event in March 2006 is somewhat confused.
Jeffery Warder testified on behalf of Defendant.
Lieutenant Warder is 40 years old and has been employed by Defendant for 16 years. Jeffery Warder is a lieutenant with the Delta substation at Defendant. Lieutenant Warder has held that rank for over 4 years. His duties are involving scheduling, budgets, and overseeing 36 deputies.
According to Lieutenant Warder, there are five sergeants at the Delta substation.
Lieutenant Warder has known Plaintiff for many years.
According to Lieutenant Warder, Plaintiff was a sergeant through March 2006. He was Plaintiff's supervisor from October 2004 through March 2006.
Lieutenant Warder testified about the Red Robin incident in October 2004.
Lieutenant Warder got to the scene just as the matter was wrapping up.
It was Lieutenant Warder that had a deputy take Plaintiff back to the Delta station for debriefing.
According to Lieutenant Warder, Plaintiff returned to work one to two weeks later.
At that point, it had been determined that Plaintiff’s bullet hit the hostage/waitress at Red Robin.
Plaintiff went off work again when this was discovered. He treated with a psychiatrist in Okemos.
Plaintiff told Lieutenant Warder that talking to the waitress/hostage’s family made him feel better.
On December 6, 2004, Plaintiff returned to work and therefore was released to work by his psychiatrist.
According to Lieutenant Warder, Plaintiff's performance was very good after he returned to work. His job performance hadn’t changed and he was the “same old Jeff”.
According to Lieutenant Warder, Plaintiff loved being a police officer.
Plaintiff never raised any issues with the lieutenant regarding the Red Robin event or any stress surrounding that circumstance.
By late summer/early fall of 2005, Plaintiff appeared to be stressed out.
He was using more leave time, and was not interested in his job as he had been in the past. He was performing less traffic stops and other police activities.
Lieutenant Warder asked Plaintiff if anything was bothering him. Plaintiff advised Lieutenant Warder that he was having marital difficulties.
Plaintiff had several conversations with Plaintiff regarding his marriage, and the difficulties that Plaintiff was having. Plaintiff was concerned about his spouse being unfaithful, as well as her having substance abuse issues.
Plaintiff was also voicing stress regarding his children.
During none of these conversations did Plaintiff voice any concerns regarding the Red Robin incident.
According to Lieutenant Warder, Plaintiff was “consumed” with his marital problems, and he was “unraveling”.
Lieutenant Warder went to a seminar in Ohio which dealt in part with police officer suicide. Lieutenant Warder talked to Plaintiff about it and indicated that he should seek counseling. Plaintiff told Lieutenant Warder again that the stress was due to his marital difficulties.
After that, Plaintiff asked for a shift change in late 2005/early 2006 so that he could see his children more. At that point, Plaintiff and his wife were living separately.
With respect to Plaintiff having been convicted of two felonies, Lieutenant Warder indicated that Plaintiff would not be eligible to be re-employed by Defendant.
Lieutenant Warder also discussed the shooting that occurred in March 2006. This occurred about one month before charges were filed against Plaintiff.
Lieutenant Warder discussed Plaintiff asking for a smaller gun at Frank’s Press Box on one occasion.
On cross-examination, Lieutenant Warder indicated that police related stressors can have a traumatic effect on police officers. When Lieutenant Warder noticed stress in Plaintiff he did not refer Plaintiff to Captain Wessels.
Lieutenant Warder also indicated that police work can be very stressful and that the divorce rate is 75% amongst law enforcement officers.
Also, Lieutenant Warder discussed a conversation that he had with Plaintiff regarding the confidentiality of records with Dr. Gallagher. Apparently, no alternative counselor was offered at that time.
Plaintiff Exhibit 1 is awards and commendations related to Plaintiff.
These were reviewed by the Court. These awards and letters demonstrate that Plaintiff, during the time that he worked at Defendant, performed his job in a way deserving of significant praise and awards.
Plaintiff Exhibit 2 is Plaintiff's performance evaluations during the time that he worked at Defendant.
Again, these demonstrate that Plaintiff, throughout his employment with Defendant, through at least February 28, 2006 demonstrates that Plaintiff did his job effectively and professionally.
In fact, in the last evaluation from February 2006, the evaluation indicates that “Sergeant Lutz is one of the hardest workers assigned to the Delta patrol. He is a natural leader and is well respected by his shift. He is always willing to do what is asked of him, even if he does not agree with it.”
Plaintiff Exhibit 3 is medical records from Sparrow Health Systems.
This exhibit includes the emergency room records from the March 2006 shooting as well as the Sparrow psychiatric records. The shooting occurred on March 20, 2006.
Plaintiff presented to the Sparrow psychiatric unit with a history of stressors including his divorce, as well as his wife’s extramarital activities, and the hostage situation at Red Robin Restaurant.
Plaintiff also indicated that he was facing criminal charges which “is adding to his stress”.
In the initial psychiatric evaluation authored by Dr. Sigal, Plaintiff gave a history of being under a tremendous amount of stress “mainly connected with him going through the divorce process with his wife of five years.”
Plaintiff was discharged from inpatient services at Sparrow Behavioral Health on April 4, 2006. At that time, the final diagnosis was adjustment disorder with mixed emotional features, alcohol use/abuse and PTSD.
Plaintiff Exhibit 4 is records from Tatiana Sigal, M.D.
Dr. Sigal diagnosed bipolar disorder and post traumatic stress disorder.
According to a letter to Circuit Judge Eveland dated April 12, 2007 in Exhibit 4, Dr. Sigal indicated that Plaintiff suffered from post traumatic stress disorder related to the Red Robin incident, as well as significant marital issues which culminated on the date that the shooting incident occurred in March 2006.
The last note in the exhibit is from April 5, 2007. Plaintiff was still suffering from the same diagnosis at that time and was making poor progress.
Plaintiff Exhibit 5 is records from Psych Appraisal Associates.
There is a note from Dr. Kaufman dated November 10, 2004 indicating that Plaintiff returned to work to early following the Red Robin incident in October 2004.
Dr. Kaufman recommended timed release Xanax at that time.
By December 1, 2004, a note from Dr. Gallagher indicates that Plaintiff was feeling much better.
Plaintiff was planning on returning to work on Monday, December 6, 2004. According to the note, Plaintiff reported “I’m ready-I really am-I’m ready.” Dr. Gallagher agreed, and returned Plaintiff to work as of December 6, 2004.
In fact, there is a typed letter dated December 20, 2004 signed by both Drs. Gallagher and Kaufman indicating that Plaintiff was capable of conforming his behaviors to the essential job and task functions of a sworn officer and should have no problems returning to full duty status as of December 6, 2004.
The next entry is from March 20, 2006. At that time, Plaintiff was very unstable and crying.
Plaintiff gave a history of feeling less than productive since the Red Robin event.
Exhibit 5 also contains a typed letter from Dr. Gallagher indicating that Plaintiff be off duty, on leave, for a period of ninety days until approximately June 26, 2006 due to a duty related gun shot injury received by Plaintiff on March 20, 2006.
Plaintiff Exhibit 6 was viewed by the Court.
It is a short item that was presented on WILX News 10 broadcast on April 12, 2006.
The newscast reported that Plaintiff's personnel file had been reviewed, and did not show any history of discipline or significant events in Plaintiff's work history.
There was a suggestion that for a time Plaintiff had too many cases as a detective, and was advised not to work as hard.
Plaintiff Exhibit 7 is the deposition of Alton Kirk, Ph.D.
Dr. Kirk is a psychologist that began treating Plaintiff on April 25, 2006.
Dr. Kirk felt that Plaintiff suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. He further felt that Plaintiff received inadequate treatment from the Red Robin event and that his psychological state was extremely poor at the time of the March 2006 shooting event.
Dr. Kirk also testified that Plaintiff was having marital problems at the time of the March 2006 shooting. He felt that the shooting should be classified as “transient amnesia”, wherein Plaintiff is unclear of whether he was shot by someone else or had a self inflicted wound.
Furthermore, Dr. Kirk felt that although Plaintiff was having marital problems, they did not have a significant effect on his mental status.
Dr. Kirk also opined that Plaintiff is not capable of returning to police work given his post traumatic stress disorder.
With respect to employment in general, Dr. Kirk testified that Plaintiff could only do a job that had flexible hours and to “work independently”.
Finally, with respect to the March 2006 shooting, Dr. Kirk indicated that Plaintiff is not sure what happened on the day he was shot, that is whether it was a self inflicted wound versus Plaintiff being shot in the midst of scuffle.
On cross-examination, Dr. Kirk indicated that when Plaintiff initially saw him, he did not give a history of anything having to do with the Red Robin incident.
Furthermore, Dr. Kirk indicated that the March 2006 shooting event could have been significant enough to justify the post traumatic stress disorder diagnosis even without the prior incidents at Red Robin, and the drug raid in 1996.
Dr. Kirk also testified that working could be good therapy for Plaintiff.
Dr. Kirk also testified that Plaintiff's psychotherapy sessions with Dr. Kirk are a condition of his probation.
Finally, Dr. Kirk testified that although the incident at Red Robin was one of many stress factors, it was the one that carried the most weight.
Defendant Exhibit A is the deposition testimony of Harvey Ager, M.D.
Dr.Ager, a board-certified psychiatrist, saw Plaintiff at the request of Defendant on October 22, 2006.
Dr. Ager spent 1¾ hours with Plaintiff taking a detailed history and formal mental status examination. Dr. Ager also reviewed documentation and information that was supplied to him by defense counsel.
Dr. Ager opined that Plaintiff may have developed an adjustment disorder.
He did not relate this to Plaintiff's employment with Defendant.
Dr. Ager felt that Plaintiff may have also inherited an underlying biological type of mood disorder.
Further, Dr. Ager indicated that Plaintiff could return to work as a police officer with no restrictions if he had the desire to do so and he was legally able to do so.
Dr. Ager also was of the opinion that Plaintiff's marital problems were a “lot more significant than any alleged difficulties that he was experiencing on the job prior to the shooting incident on March 20, 2006.”
Dr. Ager did testify that the adjustment disorder may also be related to Plaintiff having lost his job and the criminal proceedings that have developed as a result of what happened regarding the March 2006 shooting.
Finally, Dr. Ager felt that Plaintiff was not in need of mental health treatment.
Although this Court does accept the testimony of Dr. Ager as far as his expert opinion, the documentation which was given to him for review, as well as the correspondence sent to him by defense counsel are hereby excluded as they do constitute hearsay.
Dr. Ager’s opinion is limited to the history taking and mental status evaluation that he personally performed.
Although Plaintiff counsel objected to the entirety of the deposition, that objection is overruled.
Defendant Exhibit B was reviewed by the Court.
It includes an Application for a Personal Protection Order filed by Jamie Lutz against Plaintiff. A Personal Protection Order was granted on April 3, 2006.
Plaintiff then filed a motion to terminate the Order in an Application dated April 14, 2006.
The Application for the Personal Protection Order contains various statements by Plaintiff's ex-wife against Plaintiff.
The allegations include events of February 7, 2006 wherein Plaintiff grabbed a gun, and was engaged in suicidal behavior.
Defendant Exhibit C is e-mails between Plaintiff and Jamie Lutz.
This exhibit was reviewed in its entirety, and contains no information whatsoever regarding the Red Robin incident, or any work related stress at all.
Exhibit C contains lengthy e-mails, some of which were several pages in length involving detailed accounts of marital stress, custody issues, money issues, and other matters related to the pending divorce.
Defendant Exhibit D is the sentencing document indicating that Plaintiff was convicted by a jury of four counts.
Plaintiff was sentenced to jail, with work release as well as restitution and a five year probation order.
Plaintiff was also ordered to provide 400 hours of community service.
In order to establish a compensable claim, the Plaintiff must prove, by a preponderance of evidence, each element of the claim. Aquilina v. General Motors Corp. 304 Mich 206(1978). Furthermore, an employee, in order to receive workers’ disability compensation benefits, must prove a personal injury arising out of and in the course of employment. MCL 418.301(1).
Additionally, MCL 418.301(2) states that “mental disabilities and conditions of the aging process, including but not limited to heart and cardiovascular conditions, shall be compensable if contributed to or aggravated or accelerated by the employment in a significant manner. Mental disabilities shall be compensable when arising out of actual events of employment, not unfounded perceptions thereof.”
In Robertson v. Daimler Chrysler Corp. 465 Mich 732(2002), the Michigan Supreme Court held that not only the actual events, but also the worker’s perception of those events must be founded in actual fact in order to prevail in a psychiatric disability claim.
Furthermore, in Martin v. City of Pontiac School District that Plaintiff's marital/domestic situation was by far the most significant stress factor in his life during the periods in question.
Although Dr. Kirk attempted to lay the blame for Plaintiff's post traumatic stress disorder upon the Red Robin Restaurant incident, I did not find there to be adequate evidence to support that opinion.
First of all, it is abundantly clear from looking at Plaintiff's performance evaluations, as well as listening to the testimony submitted that Plaintiff did not have difficulty beyond a few weeks after that event occurred.
Plaintiff returned to work, and did his job in an outstanding fashion through his last performance evaluation in early 2006.
Additionally, when one looks at Dr. Kirk’s initial history, as well as the first few visits, it is clear that Plaintiff discussed his personal/marital problems with Dr. Kirk and entirelyomitted anything having to do with the Red Robin Restaurant event.
Although he eventually began to talk about the Red Robin event, after listening to Plaintiff's testimony in its entirety, coupled with the testimony of Dr. Ager, a board-certified psychiatrist, I did not give significant weight to Plaintiff's position that his stress resulted from the Red Robin shooting event in October 2004.
Additionally, Jeffery Warder’s testimony is significant in this matter. It is clear that Mr. Warder and Plaintiff had a close relationship, both at work and personally.
I found Lieutenant Warder’s testimony to be credible and accurate that Plaintiff did not complain about the Red Robin event to him, but rather did voice on a number of occasions the significant problems that he was having with his then wife Jamie Lutz.
It is also clear that the event of March 2006 wherein Plaintiff was convicted of filing false report, as well as a number of other criminal counts was quite stressful to him.
I also did not find Plaintiff to be a credible witness at the time of trial.
Plaintiff made statements that certainly called his veracity into question, particularly when he testified that he wants to hold off on hypnotherapy with Dr. Kirk until the criminal matter is over so that he can “testify honestly and truthfully”.
Moreover, the fact that Plaintiff's emotional symptoms are not work related is significantly bolstered by Defendant Exhibit C.
This Court spent hours reviewing these e-mails which were primarily long rambling statements from Plaintiff to Jamie Lutz.
The stress and depression that Plaintiff was feeling at that time is palpable upon a careful reading of these documents.
It is clear that Plaintiff was significantly stressed out, and had reason to be, during the time that these e-mails were written. These certainly provide a better glimpse of Plaintiff's then emotional condition, as opposed to his testifying in Court almost two years later.
For the reasons set forth above, as well as the entirety of the evidence presented at trial I find that Plaintiff has failed to establish a work related psychiatric condition.
Therefore, Defendant bears no responsibility as far as the payment of workers’ compensation benefits, either by the way of wage loss or medical.
Therefore, Plaintiff’s Application is hereby dismissed.
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION AGENCY
JEFFERY LUTZ V. EATON COUNTY-
CHRISTOPHER P. AMBROSE 215G
Signed on April 3, 2008 at Lansing, Michigan.
Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards Commission Meeting Minutes
September 12, 2007
Oronoko Township Public Safety Building Berrien Springs, Michigan
Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards Commission Meeting.
Berrien Sorines. MI
Sentemher 12. 2007
NEW BUSINESS Continued:
Commission Revocations - Mr. Furtaw presented the following cases recommending the Commission consider the proofs, finding of facts, and conclusions of law found in the "Proposals for Decision" issued by Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Michael Zimmer.
Jeffrey Lutz - Mr. Lute, a former Eaton County Sheriffs Deputy, was convicted of false report of a felony discharge of a firearm in the 56th District Court in Eaton County on March 13, 2007.
A MOTION was made by Mr. DeVries and supported by Trooper Moorman to accept the Proposal for Decision of the Administrative Law Judge and revoke the law enforcement license of Mr. Jeffrey Lutz.
A VOTE was taken. The MOTION carried.
New Details in Deputy Accused of Shooting Himself
WLNS News April 16th, 2006
New developments in the case of the Eaton County sheriff’s sergeant who prosecutors say made up a story about being shot by a black man, when he really shot himself.
The Michigan State Police handed over a report to the Eaton County prosecutor as part of the investigation.
Prosecutors aren’t sharing the details, but we’ve learned from state police that Jeff Lutz did not use his own gun to shoot himself. Police say they found a 25 caliber gun, and the bullet casing matched those found at a Delta Township shopping center where the incident happened.
Sergeant's Personnel Files Include Mostly Praise, Some Warnings
Posted: 11:24 PM Apr 12, 2006
The Eaton County Sheriff's Sergeant accused of shooting himself March 20 has a largely positive history at the department, according to his 500-plus page personnel obtained by News 10.
While there are some warnings about potential burn-out, the report contains nothing to indicate to an everyday observer he would shoot himself and blame a black man for it.
The records include performance reviews, one calling Lutz "the hardest worker on his shift." He's praised for his conduct as an officer -- and he's praised for his dealings with the public.
Eaton County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Brian Peacock says the file is mostly positive. "The only thing out of the ordinary is the extraordinary work record," Peacock said. Lutz is described as dedicated, but at one point, superiors told him he was "taking on too many investigations." "...It was difficult to complete all of them," Peacock said.
A few reports advised Lutz "not to let his emotions get in the way" of his work.
The file contains no citizen complaints. There are also no discplinary reports.
"If someone is discplined, the record will go into his file for a prescribed period," Peacock said. After that time, he says, the discipline record is removed. But Peacock says beyond the limited memory of the personnel file, he doesn't remember any significant disciplinary action taken against the sergeant.
The records show a commendation for Lutz after he was shot in the shoulder in 1996.
We didn't see any records of another shooting he was involved in -- this one at a Red Robin restaurant in November 2004. Lutz's attorney says his client's mental condition has been questionable since then, particularly in the weeks and days before the March 20 shooting.
Peacock says he didn't see any evidence of that in the files. Based on the records and his own memory, Peacock says he couldn't envision Lutz doing what he's accused of: Faking his own shooting.
"Certainly nothing in his career that would have forewarned us or made any sense of this allegation," Peacock said. Records of psychiatric evaluations required after the Red Robin shooting were not included in the report.
Then-Sheriff Rep. Rick Jones (R - Grand Ledge) has said Lutz was given proper mental health evaluations and treatment. The sheriff's department tells us those records are kept in a separate, private file.
Lutz, who is charged with two felonies in connection with the March 20 shooting, has been serving in the department for nearly 15 years. He is scheduled to appear in court for an evidence hearing two weeks from now. -- in Lansing.
Exclusive: Inside Sgt. Jeff Lutz's Personnel File
Posted: 6:55 PM Apr 12, 2006
Reporter: Tony Tagliavia
He claimed he was shot March 20. Now Eaton County Sheriff's Sgt. Jeff Lutz stands accused of having shot himself.
News 10 has an exclusive look at the records that detail Lutz's time at the department.
At more than 500 pages, Lutz's personnel records include praise for his conduct and praise for how he dealt with the public.
"Sergeant Lutz had an exemplary record until this incident. I think everybody in the sheriff's department was shocked when he was charged," Eaton County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Brian Peacock, who reviewed the report, said.
One thing that did come up repeatedly in the file: Superior officers telling Lutz to ease his workload.
"As a detective, he may have been taking on so many cases that it was difficult to conclude all of them," Peacock said.
But at first glance, the file contains nothing a lay person would interpret as a warning sign for what Lutz is accused of.
The 500-plus-page file contains the sergeant's entire personnel record, except for his social security number, according to the Eaton County Sheriff's Department.
There were no disciplinary reports in the file. The department says disciplinary matters could be removed after any punishment or disciplinary action had occurred. But Peacock says he can't recall any discipline incidents. He also says he doesn't see anything in the file to suggest the kind of action Lutz is accused of taking.
There were no reports of any race-related incidents in the file.
Chief Deputy Peacock says he doesn't recall any such incidents either.
More Details on Deputy Accused of Shooting Himself
Submitted by: Michigan Gun Owners
"The Eaton County Prosecutor's Office issued a four count felony warrant to Sheriff Sergeant Jeff Lutz."
"Investigators allege that Lutz shot himself while on duty just two weeks ago. I talked with Jeff Lutz's Attorney Mike Hocking. He wasn't able to tell me where exactly Lutz is, but he gave some background information to help us understand why the man is not a threat to the community."
... "Mike Hocking, Attorney: 'My client is in a treatment facility for a variety of reasons, many of the related to this case.'"
"He says Jeff Lutz sought treatment on his own. Hocking says, in the past ten years, Lutz has been involved in two other shootings while on duty. He's also going through divorce, and that's just some of the background ..."
MI: Warrant Issued for Local Deputy Who Was Shot
Submitted by: Michigan Gun Owners
"Mike Eagen, Chief Assistant Prosecutor: 'It becomes very distressing when a case like this comes about, I don't think it's easy for anyone.'"
"The Eaton County Prosecutor's Office issues charges against a sergeant with the sheriff's office. The Eaton County Prosecutor's Office issued a four county felony warrant for Sergeant Jeff Lutz. The charges Sergeant Jeff Lutz faces are making a false report of a felony, shooting at a police car, reckless use of a firearm and filing a false report to a police radio station."
"All of the charges allege his own involvement in shooting himself. Two weeks ago, Eaton County Sheriff Sergeant Jeff Lutz was shot while on duty, and now investigators believe they know who fired the gun." ...
Sheriff's Sergeant Charged With Felonies
Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney Press Release
April 03, 2006
Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey L. Sauter announced today that, JEFFREY S. LUTZ, a sergeant with the Eaton County Sheriff Department, is being charged with:
· False Report of a Felony (felony),
· Firearm Discharge at Emergency Police Vehicle (felony),
· Reckless Use of a Firearm (misdemeanor), and
· False Report over a Police Radio Station (misdemeanor).
The shooting incident was reported to have occurred on March 20, 2006. It is a distressing situation for everyone involved.
However, the case is an example of one in which the police agencies involved acted in the highest of professional standards.
The Eaton County Sheriff Department started this investigation.
When it became apparent that there could be a possible conflict of interest the investigation was turned over to the Michigan State Police Major Crimes Unit.
Today's charges are a direct result of that State Police investigation.
Michigan Officer Shot At Traffic Stop
Posted: Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Updated: July 8th, 2008 05:27 PM GMT-05:00
Police are searching for a man who shot an Eaton County sheriff's deputy early Monday morning.
Sergeant Jeff Lutz was shot in the shoulder when he approached a man he thought looked suspicious.
Police say they're doing everything they can to catch this guy.
Right now, they're looking for a vehicle of interest. It's described as an older-model Cutlass, maybe 83 to 85, light in color, possibly grey.
Police called off an intense search for the gunman. They used a helicopter, tracking dogs and tactical teams to comb through neighborhoods and a nearby wooded area, but after cordoning off a large area near the crime scene, and a seven-hour effort, they believe the gunman got away.
Now, they're looking for clues in a surveillance video provided by a business near the crime scene. Shawn Sodman, owner of Game Hits: "We do have exterior cameras that have some footage of the perimeter of the store, and we're hoping, really hoping that they're going to be able to get something from that."
Sergeant Lutz is recovering and is expected to be OK. Police are working with him right now to put together a composite sketch of the gunman.
Eaton County Sheriff Department
ECSD DEPUTY SHOOTING
March 20, 2006
UPDATE: April 4, 2006
Eaton County Sheriff Department News Releases http://www.eatoncounty.org/Departments/Office_of_the_Sheriff/More_Information/New_Releases/2006.htm
The Sheriff's Office is committed to fully supporting the Eaton County Prosecutors Office and the Investigators from the Michigan State Police as they continue to investigate this shooting.
Of course we are disappointed anytime the conduct of any of our members is called into question.
However, we will continue to support and cooperate with the investigation into the events of March 20.
While we take this matter very seriously, we are careful not to draw conclusions based on today's events alone.
We have full faith that the investigation will uncover the truth, and it will be resolved in a manner consistent with the best interest of the Eaton County community. Our mission remains, to protect and serve all of the citizens of Eaton County and we will not let these events distract us from that mission.