Metro-East News

Veterans advocate’s lawsuit dismissed by judge

Two counts in a lawsuit brought by veterans advocate Bradley Lavite, who was barred from the Madison County Courthouse following a violent episode in March linked to combat-induced PTSD, were dismissed Friday by Circuit Judge Steve Stobbs.

A third count was declared moot and also dismissed.

Lavite had filed the suit in an attempt to be allowed back into county buildings. His office is located in the Madison County Administration Building.

Stobbs, in his ruling, said county officials “made discretionary judgments regarding the security of county facilities, employees and members of the public” who visit the county buildings.

According to a court order filed Friday in Circuit Court in Madison County, Lavite’s motions to force County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan and other officials to allow him back into his office at the county building, where he has served as superintendent of the Madison County Veterans Assistance Commission since 2009, were dismissed on grounds that Lavite has no legal standing to bring the legal action.

A second motion, to force the county to pay Lavite’s attorney’s fees, was dismissed for the same lack of a legal standing premise, according to a court document.

A third count, that Lavite be allowed to pursue his superintendent’s job, was declared moot because he in fact is receiving his full $84,000 salary.

Lavite’s lawyer, Thomas Burkart of Hamel, could not be reached for comment. Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons also could not be reached.

Joe Parente, the Madison County administrator, said the county is trying to find a way to safely allow Lavite back into the courthouse to resume his superintendent’s job. Parente said the county has been trying unsuccessfully to meet with board members of the Veterans Assistance Commission to resolve the Lavite situation.

Six months ago, Lavite appreared to suffer a mental breakdown at home linked to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder acquired during military service in Kuwait and in the Iraqi cities of Fallujah and Baghdad. Lavite has argued that his psychiatrist has declared him fit to return to work.

According to police reports, he was taken into custody and during the ride to a police station broke out the window of a squad car and told an arresting police officer, “I’m gonna murder you!” He was charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct and given court supervision and ordered to pay for the squad car window.

Veterans Assistance Commissions are formed by veterans’ organizations within a county, and once formed, the Military Veterans Assistance Act requires that the county provide office space and approve a “reasonable budget” funded by either the county’s general fund or a dedicated tax levy. But although the paychecks may come from the county, the employees — including the superintendent — answer to the VAC board and are not technically county employees. The board members are appointed by the veterans’ organizations, not the County Board.