San Francisco’s former chief toxicologist is suing the city, claiming he resigned in 2016 after he was “instructed … to engage in unlawful activity” by assisting “an unlicensed forensic toxicologist to illegal perform DUI alcohol testing.”
In wrongful termination lawsuit filed in February in San Francisco Superior Court, Dr. Nikolas Lemos, who’s gay, says Christopher Wirowek, deputy director at the medical examiner’s office, told him to “comply now and grieve later” after Wirowek “personally recruited” Dr. Luke Rodda from Australia.
Lemos says that in July 2016, the state’s Forensic Alcohol program notified him that it would not certify Rodda “given his present credentials.”
“Mr. Wirowek’s instructions put plaintiff in an untenable situation,” Lemos’s complaint says. “If he was to sign off on Dr. Rodda’s test results and then attempt to support them in criminal trials, eh could be guilty of perjury. Conversely, if plaintiff refused to support the test results and it was ever learned why (i.e., because Dr. Rodda was conducting the tests illegally), then plaintiff’s professional integrity would be damaged irreparably for having knowingly allowed an unlicensed toxicologist to conduct DUI tests. Either way, plaintiff could not carry out Mr. Wirowek’s mandate to allow Dr. Rodda to be involved in DUI testing.”
Lemos resigned in July, and Rodda was named acting chief forensic toxicologist. According to the complaint, Rodda is still the interim head of toxicology at the medical examiner’s office.
Wirowek declined to comment. Rodda didn’t immediately respond to an interview request. Spokespeople for the state Forensic Alcohol program couldn’t be reached Monday morning (March 6).
In response to an email from the Bay Area Reporter, John Cote, a spokesman for the city attorney’s office, said, “We’re not going to comment on pending litigation.”
The B.A.R. will have more on this story in the Thursday, March 9 edition.