ST. LOUIS (CN) – The St. Louis Police Department fired a chemist in its crime lab after she complained about mistakes in criminal cases, the woman claims in City Court. The plaintiff has an advanced degree in chemistry and more than 25 years experience.
Margart Lin Owens claims the department fired her after more than 25 years of service under the pretext of insubordination, but its real intent was to punish her for reporting fellow chemist Allyson Seger’s mistakes in drug analysis in two cases.
Owens said Seger erred in two cases by finding tablets recovered by police to be negative, though they were both controlled substances.
Owens claims the mistakes were never corrected in department records, even after she brought her concerns to her superiors. Instead, Owens claims, the heat was turned on to her.
“Plaintiff acknowledges that on May 5, 2010 her supervisor, Joe Crow, had informed her that she would be written up for insubordination after Crow and Sergeant John Ruzicka complained to Lt. Angela Coonce that plaintiff was disrespectful and insubordinate by having successfully worked on numerous drug cases and an unsolved homicide/arson case, and not prioritizing just drug cases, which Crow had ordered plaintiff to do in his capacity as one of plaintiff’s supervisors,” the complaint states.
Owens claims that the insubordination charge was a pretext for firing her. Owens says the defendant St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Board of Police Commissioners violated the Whistleblower Act by firing her and that she suffered lost wages, injury to her professional reputation and employability, and loss of eligibility to serve as an adjunct professor at Concordia University Wisconsin – St. Louis Center. Owens claims her non-economic damages total $350,000. She is represented by W. Bevis Schock.
Owens has a B.S. in Chemistry from Southeast Missouri University and an M.S. in Chemistry from Saint Louis University.
She says she developed a new method of detecting gunshot residue on clothing, which was described in a 1991 article in the Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners Journal. In 2002, Owens was certified by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency to be a clandestine laboratory investigator.