November 24, 2014

Medina
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Clerk of courts, ex-chief deputy reach settlement in federal lawsuit

David Wadsworth

David Wadsworth

A settlement has been reached in a federal lawsuit brought against Medina County’s clerk of courts by an ex-employee, who sued on First Amendment grounds after she was fired.

Matthew Besser, attorney for former Chief Deputy Clerk Julie Kauffman, said the lawsuit — filed last June in U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio — was resolved with an out-of-court settlement, but declined to comment further.

“All I’m permitted to tell you is that the case has been resolved to the mutual satisfaction of all parties,” he said.

Kauffman sued Clerk of Courts David Wadsworth, accusing him of violating her First Amendment right to free speech. She said her rights were violated because he fired her in retaliation for telling county Prosecutor Dean Holman that Wadsworth had misused public funds.

Attorneys for Wadsworth and the county did not return calls for comment Thursday.

In her lawsuit, Kauffman sought reinstatement of her job, damages from the county and from Wadsworth, attorneys’ fees and a declaratory judgment that Wadsworth violated her rights.

It is unclear whether Wadsworth or the county would make any settlement payments.

According to the lawsuit, Kauffman said she told the prosecutor Wadsworth had used clerk’s office materials in his 2012 election campaign, pressured his workers to vote for him, kept a map of his campaign yard signs in his office, and filmed a political advertisement in the clerk’s office.

As a result of Kauffman’s report, Wadsworth on Sept. 4 was charged with and pleaded no contest to misusing funds, a first-degree misdemeanor, and entered a first-offender counseling program. If he completes the program, the charge will be dropped.

News of the settlement comes two months after federal Magistrate Greg White ordered that the prosecutor and lead sheriff’s investigator would have to testify at trial.

According to court records, all parties must submit official dismissal entries to the court within the month.

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com. Follow him on Twitter @ngfalcon.