In a unanimous vote, the Elbert County Board of County Commissioners voted to settle a lawsuit filed by former county employee Cherie Radeker.
Radeker sued the county, alleging that she was denied due process; that the county violated the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act; and that the county committed breach of contract and promissory estoppel (a violation of promise) when her employment was terminated while she was on family leave in 2013.
Following a series of motions, the two sides began settlement negotiations in February.
“That conference was unsuccessful, but over this course of litigation there have been continuing discussions regarding settlement,” County Attorney Wade Gateley told the BOCC before the vote on May 25. “We now have reached a settlement, and we have prepared a resolution to approve that settlement if the board decides to do so.”
The terms of the settlement require the county and its insurance carrier, Colorado Technical Services Inc., to compensate Radeker in the amount of $300,000, half paid by county taxpayers, and half from CTSI.
“I want to point out that we are part of an insurance pool, but any losses to the pool, any expenses to the pool will reflect in our rates, so we are trying to be cognizant of that as well,” said Gateley.
The agreement settles all claims made by Radeker against the county, as well as County Commissioners Robert Rowland, District I and Larry Ross, District III, and former District II Commissioner Kurt Schlegel. In addition, the county admits to no wrongdoing.
“As explained by the resolution, the primary purpose of this is a business decision. It’s based on the uncertainty of proceeding to jury trial,” said Gateley. “This particular resolution and the release covers all claims and any claims against individuals, any claims that were raised or could have been raised in that lawsuit.”
According to Gateley, the county’s legal representative, Andy Nathan of Nathan Dumm & Mayer, felt that the agreement was in “a reasonable range of settlement.”
District II Commissioner Kelly Dore said that she was happy that the case had been resolved.
“I do hope that future boards and this board can learn from the decisions that were made, the policies that were or were not followed, and we can move on from here,” she said.
Rowland reiterated that the settlement was a business decision and maintained that it is not an admission of guilt by the BOCC or the county.
“I will contend then now and into the future that there were no violations of policies, procedures, or law,” Rowland said. “It’s just a settlement to avoid any trial by jury.”