Former Mayfield animal control officer files suit against town officials

MAYFIELD — A lawsuit filed against Town Supervisor Richard Argotsinger and town councilmen, Jack Putman, Steven VanAllen, Thomas Ruliffson and Vincent Coletti will be moving foward in federal court.

Mayfield resident and former dog control officer, Douglas Kampfer filed the suit and is seeking a declaration judgment in front of a jury.

Kampfer said he is not suing the town of Mayfield and he is not seeking money for damages. He said he is however, suing the town supervisor and town councilmen for allegedly “depriving me of my due process rights.”

The complaint states, “Plaintiff seeks a Declaration from this Court, that, as a public officer in the position of Dog Control officer for the Town of Mayfield, Plaintiff’s Civil Rights were deprived of him; and, that the acts of deprivation were cruel and [unusual] punishment.”

The matter allegedly began when Kampfer was appointed to public office as dog control officer for the town on July 11, 2017.

According to the complaint, the same night Kampfer was appointed, he “took the oath of the office and signed the oath before acting town clerk, Nancy Parker, [and] the oath was to uphold the constitution of the United States and its laws and to defend and enforce the laws of the state of New York.”

However, Kampfer said when he was hired as dog control officer, his appointment was never put in writing and there was no written list of duties as dog control officer as the state of New York Agriculture and Markets Law requires.

Kampfer acted as the dog control officer for six months and on Dec. 18, 2017, he was terminated from the position which would have ended on Dec. 31, 2017.

Prior to Kampfer’s termination, there were a timeline of events that led to him being fired from the dog control officer position.

According to the complaint, “On Aug. 8, 2017, they brought [Kampfer] before the [Mayfield] town board, in a executive session which was never transcribed into minutes by the town clerk Nancy Parker.”

At that time, Kampfer was allegedly told by the town attorney, Carmel Greco, that he shouldn’t keep written records in dog bite cases and town supervisor Argotsinger allegedly told him he should slow his pace because he was costing the town too much money.

Kampfer said on Aug. 11, 2017, Argotsinger allegedly tried to get him sign an independent contractors contract for doing his duties as dog control officer. However, Kampfer said that contract was a violation of the state Agriculture and Markets Law and a violation of the town laws since the position was never put out for bids.

According to the complaint, “The independent contractors contract was [an] attempt retroactive any liability to the plaintiff, because Supervisor Richard Argotsinger was notified by Mr. Mark Morey that he was going to sue the town [of] Mayfield, because plaintiff in his official capacity as dog control officer seized Mr. Morey’s dogs for being unlicensed under N.Y.S. Agriculture and Markets Law.”

Kampfer said as dog control officer he gave out dangerous dog tickets and did over 20 dog bite cases. He said that and seizing dogs were part of his duties as dog control officer.

According to Article 7 section 113 of the Agriculture and Markets Law, the dog control officer has the right to give appearance tickets and seize dogs and must complete a record of any seizure.

On Oct. 7, 2017, Kampfer was allegedly informed by town Highway Superintendent Melvin Dopp that the town was not going to reappoint him as dog control officer because he made a complaint to the Attorney General’s Office in regards to the independent contractor contract. The decision to terminate Kampfer was made on Dec. 12, 2017, and by Dec. 18, 2017 Kampfer was informed his term would end by Dec. 31, 2017.

“They can’t just fire me for any reason,” Kampfer said.

He said he was dismissed without due process

According to the complaint, “Prior to Dec. 12, 2017, plaintiff never received a notice nor was the plaintiff given a [Lourdermill Hearing] or any other due process, procedural or substantive, to be heard in regards to the refusal to be reappointed or terminated from the position of public dog control officer for the town of Mayfield.”

“They did not have the power to fire me because they did not hold a hearing and there was no written document of my appointment,” Kampfer said.

The trial date for the case is scheduled for January to appear in front of District Court Judge Lawrence Kahn.

By Kerry Minor

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