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Attorney: Federal lawsuit by ousted Cal City fire chief moving forward

Trial expected to start in November
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Posted at 4:02 PM, May 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-16 19:02:32-04

A lawsuit filed by the former California City Fire chief against the city is moving forward and is expected to go to trial in November.

The attorney representing Justin Vincent confirmed to 23ABC News that the discovery phase of the lawsuit is nearly complete.

23ABC News reached out to acting City Manager Anna Linn seeking comment on the lawsuit but has not yet heard back. This story will be updated if and when a response is received.

In January of 2018, Vincent filed the federal lawsuit in the Eastern District of California against California City. Among the claims are racial discrimination and violations of Vincent's due process rights.

Both Vincent and his attorney, Oshea Orchid, declined to comment on the recent resignation of City Manager Robert Stockwell.

Orchid said they have not heard from the City since Stockwell's resignation.

Vincent was released as a probationary employee in 2017 after he says he was pressured by city officials to approve buildings even if they didn't meet the fire code requirements. He said he rebuffed that pressure and even refused bribes to pass those buildings, specifically ones that were expected to house marijuana businesses.

The ousted fire chief claims Stockwell told Vincent to be lenient on marijuana grow businesses when it came to the fire code because of the possible positive revenue impact the businesses could bring to the city.

Stockwell resigned from his position on May 15 after more than two weeks on paid administrative leave due to issues raised during a recent performance evaluation.

Despite his resignation, Sockwell is still listed on the California City website as the City Manager as of 4 p.m. on May 16.

The lawsuit also claims former mayor Jennifer Wood said Vincent’s marijuana safety recommendations would be too “costly,” and that Public Works Director, Craig Platt said during a meeting that Vincent was going to “kill the town.”

Platt was placed on administrative leave on May 8 pending an investigation by the Kern County District Attorney.

Vincent and Orchid declined to comment on the ongoing investigation into Platt.