By Steve Large

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Fired Sacramento Fire Chief Gary Loesch is seeking damages in excess of $10 million from the city in a wrongful termination claim, alleging the city manager deliberately exposed him to COVID-19 in an act of retaliation.

The allegation stems from the day City Manager Howard Chan fired him during a meeting at city hall. Loesch claims Chan was wearing a mask on that day and that Chan told him it was “because he had COVID.”

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Loesch now calls that act one of deliberate exposure. He spoke to CBS13 last week about the exchange.

“I started almost like in shock like what,” Loesch said. “Because that’s against all protocol. He’s in a city building, admitting that he has COVID.”

He added, “I mean now you’ve put my health and my family’s health in danger now.”

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Sacramento city spokesperson Tim Swanson said Chan did not have COVID-19 when he met Loesch, and that he did have it previously but had tested negative for approximately a week before the meeting with Loesch.

Stewart Katz is an attorney who has filed many claims with the city and says this is a wild one.

“That doesn’t sound like that’s a salvagable working relationship,” Katz said. “You might as well say ‘They wanted to fire me, and by the way, they tried to poison me.’ That doesn’t seem like a basis for a real trust between both sides.”

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The wrongful termination claim starts the clock for when Loesch can sue the city. The city has 45 days to respond to the claim.