OKLAHOMA CITY (CN) – Oklahoma’s longtime Director of Testing McBeth Sample Jr. has sued the state, saying she was fired to quell a media storm over a change in nameplates on alcohol-testing machines.
She sued the State of Oklahoma, its Board of Tests for Alcoholic and Drug Influence, and Chairman of the Board Kenneth Blick for wrongful firing and defamation.
Sample claims a typo in the state code listed the “Guth Model 210021” machine twice as an approved alcohol-testing machine, rather than listing it once, and the “Guth Model 2100” once.
Sample says the two machines are the same. He says that Richard Guth, the inventor of both machines, told him so, and told him he “had a solution” to the problem caused by the typo. Sample says Guth told him he should just change the nameplates on all the 2100 models to make them 210021s.
Sample says he recommended to the Board that rather than spend $400 apiece on 169 new 210021 machines, for $67,600, they should just change the nameplates, as Guth suggested.
He says the Board directed him to do that, in 2005.
However, after media reports surfaced about the changing of the nameplates, attorneys began filing lawsuits seeking to exonerate clients who had been charged with DUI on the basis of an alcohol test by a machine with a switched nameplate.
Sample claims the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that the typo was “without legal consequence,” that the Guth Model 2100 was “still an approved device,” and that “any other interpretation would permit ‘absurd consequences.'”
Nonetheless, Sample says, Blick demanded that he resign, and then fired him, “to deflect undesired media attention away from the Board’s activities and conceal from the public that it was the Board who actually ordered the nameplates changed.”
Sample, who was a state police officer for 31 years, then director of state testing for 8 years, claims his firing was defamatory, illegal, and unconstitutional. He wants his job back and monetary damages. He is represented by Ryan Leonard. See complaint.