City Insurance Coverage Relieves Exposure In Law Staff Suit
March 16, 2013
By Mary Pechar
February 23rd, a Joint Stipulation for Dismissal with Prejudice was filed with the Circuit Court of Jackson County in the matter of Rachel Townsend vs. the City of Lee’s Summit, MO, et al. thus bringing to an end the initial lawsuit resulting from Townsend’s dismissal as city prosecutor after complaining of sexual harassment.
According to court documents, in Dec. 2010, Townsend sent a memo to City Manager Steve Arbo complaining about a sexually charged birthday card City Attorney Theresa Williams had circulated around the office. In it, she accused Williams of sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment. Townsend was demoted later that month, receiving a 5 percent pay decrease and then a few weeks later removed from the office and placed on administrative leave. She was ultimately dismissed by the Lee’s Summit City Council on April 14, 2011 at Williams’s recommendation.
Although all documents related to the Joint Stipulation and agreement are sealed, total damages reportedly are around $277K of which all but the deductible of $25K is covered by the city’s insurance coverage. Also all parties are prohibited from commenting or discussing the case or the settlement.
In a related matter, the trial of Eric Butkovitch vs. the City of Lee’s Summit et al. has been scheduled for February 18th, 2014.
At the time of the Townsend incident, Butkovitch was serving as a substitute prosecutor for the city. In February after Townsend was placed on administrative leave, acting prosecuting attorney, Terri Round offered Butkovitch additional work and requested he write an appellate brief blaming Townsend for misconduct the suit alleges. Round told Butkovitch that Williams, the city attorney, wanted to blame Townsend for misconduct.
After refusing, Butkovitch was notified via voicemail from Round that the city had removed him from several dockets. Butkovitch sought a part-time position as prosecutor with the city. Despite having been a finalist for Round’s job as assistant prosecutor he was not even given an interview for the part-time position. Butkovitch told Municipal Court Judge James Tobin that he felt her had been retaliated against for refusing to file a brief blaming Townsend for something he knew nothing about.
A Case Management Conference is set for April 15, 2013 raising speculation that a settlement in this case may also be coming. It is unknown at this time if the city insurance would also cover a settlement in this case.
City Attorney Williams is on medical leave from March 4th until approximately April 15th.