Case against landfill moved to federal court

A lawsuit against the regional landfill will be held in federal court.

Deb Watson Lentsch, of Fort Dodge, former director of recycling and administration/finance for the North Central Iowa Regional Solid Waste Agency, claims in a lawsuit she was fired for being a whistleblower.

She filed suit in January against the agency and its interim director, Cynthia Turkle, alleging she was fired for reporting misconduct by Turkle.

On April 10, Judge Thomas Bice ordered the case moved to federal court.

This was requested by the landfill, according to attorneys Deb Tharnish, representing the landfill, and Emily McCarty, representing Watson Lentsch.

Watson Lentsch was terminated in September 2013. Her lawsuit states her termination violated her First Amendment rights, as well as “whistleblower protections guaranteed by the State of Iowa and the public policy of the State of Iowa.”

According to an unemployment appeal filed by Watson Lentsch that was decided against her in November 2013, Watson Lentsch was fired for alleged misconduct, including a failure to pass along notices of environmental violations to the agency board, purchasing equipment without the proper bidding process and hiring unqualified people.