September 1, 2014

Medina
Intermittent clouds
81°F

Ex-employee’s lawsuit costs county insurance fee

MEDINA — Medina County will pay $2,500 to meet an insurance deductible in a payout resulting from the settlement of a federal lawsuit between the county’s clerk of courts and a former employee.

County Administrator Chris Jakab said no more than $2,500 will be paid from county funds in the settlement.

“That’s our standard deductible,” Jakab said. “That’s how much will apply in this matter.”

Jakab said the county pays about $519,000 per year for its insurance policy, which covers everything from property and vehicle damage to liability and crime and law enforcement issues.

He said the out-of-court settlement is not yet finalized, so he wasn’t sure whether the payments would alter premium costs in the coming years.

Clerk of Courts David Wadsworth was sued last June in U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio, by his former chief deputy, Julie Kauffman.

In her lawsuit, Kauffman said Wadsworth violated her First Amendment right to free speech because he fired her in retaliation for telling county Prosecutor Dean Holman that Wadsworth had misused public funds in his 2012 election campaign.

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

Jakab said he wasn’t sure whether Kauffman would get her job back because the settlement wasn’t finalized.

“The final details haven’t been released,” he said.

According to court records, the parties must submit official dismissal entries within a month. More details may become available then.

Kauffman said in her lawsuit that 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.

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