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Settlement in Brodkorb case could be on the fast track

MinnPost photo by Brian Halliday
Attorney Greg Walsh, left, and Michael Brodkorb speaking to reporters during a March press conference.

A settlement in the Michael Brodkorb wrongful termination case against the Minnesota Senate could be on the fast track.

U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur  Boylan on Thursday ordered Brodkorb and the state into confidential settlement talks. The talks will be conducted by Boylan and begin Sept. 24. 

The talks will center on Brodkorb’s claim that he was illegally fired from his position as Senate communications director after his boss, former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, resigned her post after admitting she had a personal relationship with a subordinate staff member. Brodkorb and Koch later acknowledge they had a relationship. 

Brodkorb maintains in his suit that he was treated differently than other staff members who had been similarly involved with their supervisors. The Senate has maintained that Brodkorb was an at-will employee who could be fired without cause. 

Brodkorb is also suing the Senate and  Secretary of the Senate Cal Ludeman for defamation of character for a statement to the media that accused Brodkorb of trying to “extort” the Senate. A third claim of invasion of privacy has been dropped.

The presence of Boylan in the settlement talks indicates an agreement is near, according to an attorney who is close to the case, but not representing either side. A federal magistrate brings more weight to a settlement discussion than a third party mediator, he said.  “It’s an indicator that the judge believes the case is a waste of judicial resources and wants the matter to come to a quick close,” said the attorney.

The lawyer said the order to enter into settlement talks comes with two key stipulations. The first is that Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem and Ludeman directly take part in the discussion. The second stipulation is that if a settlement is reached, Senjem would be required to make a good faith effort to get the cost of the settlement approved by the Senate Rules Committee.

Boylan has imposed a gag order, preventing parties involved from publicly discussing the case. The amount of a settlement is matter of speculation, but the expectation is that a settlement would cost less than legal fees in defending the suit, already more than $100,000.

Comments (8)

  1. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 09/07/2012 - 09:59 am.

    Settling with other people’s money (OPM) is always easy.

    Is there a “taxpayer’s representative” at the table?

    After all, if your political party is not paying the settlement and the entire point is to make it “go away”, OPM means nothing.

  2. Submitted by mark wallek on 09/07/2012 - 10:07 am.

    Anything for me?

    Given that Brodkorb is about to get a payoff for having sex with his boss (I wonder if they did it on the capitol grounds), I was wondering if the state has anything left to give me for NOT having, or even wanting, sex with his boss?

  3. Submitted by James Hamilton on 09/07/2012 - 10:14 am.

    Not an unusual process.

    While it may come a bit early, neither judicial settlement conferences nor requiring people with settlement authority to attend are at all unusual, even in an age of mandatory mediation. It sounds to me more like someone asked the magistrate to step in to help with a reluctant client.

  4. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/07/2012 - 11:25 am.

    If Brodkorb gets one thin dime, I’ll be mighty upset. At least in court, even if he does win, he’ll have to pay for it with whatever little shred of dignity he thinks he still has.

  5. Submitted by Mike Worcester on 09/07/2012 - 02:53 pm.

    Well Isn’t This Disappointing

    Here I was looking forward to all the salacious details he was ready to divulge on our state government gone wild. Bummer.

    Now all I have to look forward to is a settlement where nobody admits any wrong doing and nobody gets held accountable. And we–the taxpayers–get stuck paying the bill. Lovely…..

  6. Submitted by jody rooney on 09/08/2012 - 04:12 pm.

    I believe you gentleman missed the point

    I am not sure if Mr. Walleck still believe rape is about sex but that is similar to the unenlightened view that I am seeing here.

    I certainly think that squandering the public’s money is a legitimate charge to throw at the Republicans. They seem to like rules so much you would think that they would live by them.

    If it were a female secretary that had sex with her boss and his boss found out and fired her I would think it would be fairly clear that it was without cause unless there was an explicit policy and they were both fired. Clearly they can’t do that with an elected official. I think the point is that there female assistants who have slept with their bosses who have not been fired so there either is no policy therefore no cause or there is a policy and it is being applied in a discriminatory fashion.

    Frankly it was the inept handling of the situation that is costing the state money perhaps it is Mr. Ludeman who should go.

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