Former Portsmouth officer after judge’s ruling: ‘I am now at ease’

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A 10 On Your Side Success story for a former Portsmouth police officer who fought the city over advanced sick leave for years.

On Saturday, WAVY News first reported that a judge ruled Mike Plessinger did not have to pay back thousands of dollars in advanced sick leave he thought had been donated by his colleagues while he battled cancer.

Former Portsmouth officer does not owe city in sick leave dispute

For him, what was going on was all behind the scenes: Officers donating sick leave, and he claims he always thought that covered the time he was out. It is clear now that the city dropped the ball in letting Plessinger know that wasn’t the case.

“This is great news on a beautiful day,” Mike Plessinger said in front of his York County home.

Great news for the former Portsmouth police officer after a judge ruled the City of Portsmouth failed to properly notify him he owed almost $11,000 in unpaid advanced sick leave in an exit interview as Plessinger was resigning from the force, and more than five years after that.

“They never came to me and said, ‘You owe us this…’ They never said that… and the exit interview was the time that this would be presented,”  Plessinger said.

Special Report: Sick Leave Dispute

An advanced sick leave reimbursement agreement required Plessinger to pay up at the time he resigned.

Portsmouth District Judge Doug Ottinger said in his ruling, “I find that Plessinger breached the contract when he failed to enter into an agreement with the city… on or before the date of resignation or termination… Accordingly, the applicable statute of limitations, which is agreed by all parties to be five years, began to run August 19, 2011. Consequently, this action [motion for judgment by the city], filed February 15, 2017, is outside of the statute of limitations and therefore [the case] may not proceed.”

Plessinger responded to Judge Ottinger’s decision: “I am actually not going to be jumping up and down in a victory dance until after the appeal date.”

Judge Ottinger gave the city 10 days to appeal. Unknown to Plessinger, WAVY’s Andy Fox handed him an email from Attorney Michael Piluso — who represented the Portsmouth City Treasurer’s Office against him. Andy asked Plessinger to read what Piluso wrote.

“The city will not be appealing the Plessinger matter. I am closing my file and will direct that finance write-off the remaining balance on the account as uncollectable,” the email read.

A big smile came across Plessinger’s face.

“…This is wonderful news. I am now at ease,” Plessinger said. “I feel a lot better now. This is great news.”

Plessinger went on to say, “Your involvement in this story could have been the turning point, the case breaker, and I want to thank you because this has a lot to do with you and WAVY 10.”

Then, Plessinger had a surprise for Andy Fox: He gave him two challenge coins.

“You give these, just like in the military, to show appreciation, and it was definitely a challenge, so this fits perfectly,” Plessinger said as he handed over the two coins.

Now, Mike Plessinger gets to move on with the rest of his life — without $11,000 in debt.