Friday, Mar. 08 2013 6:34PM
City settles suit
By Toriano Porter
Rachel Townsend, a former prosecutor for the city of Lee’s Summit, will receive close to $64,000 as part of a $277,000 settlement with the city and its insurance company.
According to legal documents obtained by the Journal after an open records request March 6, a payment of nearly $16,000 will go to Townsend for lost wages and she will also receive close to $48,000 for damages.
Townsend’s attorneys, Holman Schiavone, LLC, will receive nearly $150,000 for legal fees and nearly $64,000 will go to Erlene W. Krigel, a trustee in a bankruptcy case involving Townsend and her husband, Michael Brown.
The settlement precludes Townsend from seeking re-employment with the city, prevents her from filing future lawsuits relating to the previous claims, dismisses the case, and prohibits Townsend from making disparaging remarks or negative comments against the city to third parties.
Also, the settlement releases the city from all claims asserted or which could have been asserted in the lawsuit including violations of the Age Discrimination Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Labor Act and other work-related violations.
Townsend, who sued the city in 2011 claiming unlawful termination after first being suspended with pay and escorted out of city hall before eventually being fired, alleged that City Attorney Teresa Williams retaliated against her after she sent a memo to City Manager Stephen Arbo alleging sexual harassment and other “serious personnel and policy violation(s)” complaints against Williams in December of 2010.
At the center of Townsend’s sexual harassment claim was the circulation of a birthday card around the city’s law department that Townsend felt was offensive. Townsend then claimed she was subjected to retaliation by Williams based on that claim.
As part of the settlement both Arbo and Williams agreed not disparage Townsend or make negative comments about her to a third party. The settlement also stipulates that in response to any inquiries to the city’s human resources department from prospective employers of Townsend, city officials will provide no information other than dates of employment, last position held and last rate of compensation.
The suit was scheduled to go to trial in February, but was pushed back as the two sides continue to negotiate a settlement, which was agreed upon Feb. 22.
Williams is out on extended leave from the city and could not comment on the settlement.