The Maui News - A former Maui County liquor control officer is alleging field supervisors overlooked violations and received free food, drinks and gifts from some liquor establishments they were charged with inspecting, according to a lawsuit against Maui County.
In the complaint filed Friday, Oct. 19, in 2nd Circuit Court, Justin Dobbs alleges that he faced retaliation in violation of the Hawai'i Whistleblowers Protection Act because he made complaints about "illegal and unethical activities" in the county Department of Liquor Control and said he wanted to report the activities to the Maui Police Department.
Dobbs was fired in August 2011. He is seeking reinstatement to his job with seniority, back pay and benefits, as well as other unspecified damages.
In addition to the county, the lawsuit names as defendants Franklyn Silva, director of the Department of Liquor Control, and three other department employees. Two of the employees retired this year.
In a response Thursday, Deputy Corporation Counsel Richard B. Rost said: "The claims contained in Plaintiff Justin Dobbs' complaint are without merit." The plaintiff was terminated by the county for misconduct and his claim for unemployment benefits was rejected because he was terminated for cause, Rost said.
"The county aggressively defends against frivolous lawsuits," Rost said.
According to the lawsuit, Dobbs observed violations by liquor field supervisors at about a dozen bars and other establishments serving liquor, starting when he was hired as a liquor control officer trainee on Oct. 16, 2010, and continuing through April 16, 2011.