Brodkorb’s Thursday pre-trial hearing comes with a twist

MinnPost file photo by Brian Halliday
Attorney Greg Walsh discusses Michael Brodkorb's complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last year.

Michael Brodkorb’s lawsuit against the Minnesota Senate for wrongful firing  gets a Thursday pre-trial hearing — but with a twist.

Federal Magistrate Arthur Boylan has changed the setting from a conference call to his courtroom and required the parties themselves to attend.

A pre-trial hearing is usually a routine procedure for determining case management, such as the number of depositions and the time frame, and often involves only the attorneys for the plaintiffs and defendants.   

The requirement that Brodkorb and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk or a Senate representative attend makes this a “non-routine” hearing, according to an attorney with knowledge of the case but not directly involved.  A spokesman for Bakk says he will not be in attendance at the hearing.

“The court wants to deliver a message directly to the parties before very expensive and problematic discovery is undertaken,” said the attorney, who believes the court will strongly encourage the parties to settle.

Brodkorb was fired from his job as communications director for the Senate Republican caucus after news of his relationship with former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch became public in December 2011.

To prove his case of gender discrimination, Brodkorb has said he is prepared to name other legislative staff members who had similar relationships with their bosses but were not dismissed. 

Court documents show that Brodkorb, who was paid $90,000 a year, is claiming $600,000 in damages. The Minnesota Senate has incurred nearly $200,000 in legal fees defending itself. 

If the case proceeds to trial before U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson, it is not expected to start before June 2014.

Update:

The pre-trial hearing, scheduled for May 2, was cancelled and will be rescheduled, according to a court document filed today, “to a date when all counsel and party representatives can be present in-person for said conference.” 

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Comments (10)

  1. Submitted by jody rooney on 04/30/2013 - 03:24 pm.

    Good for the federal judge

    While I am no fan of Brodkorb I think that he probably has a point about being treated differently than women who are in the same situation. I personally would have also liked to have seen Koch sue them for the same thing.

    Does anyone really think that if both genders were reversed this would have gone down this way?

    • Submitted by Jim Bernstein on 04/30/2013 - 05:37 pm.

      Yes, It Would Have Gone Down That Way

      Then Sen. Amy Koch stepped aside as Majority Leader after her affair with Mr. Brodkorb was exposed. If she had refused, it seemed very likely that her caucus in the Senate would have forced her out. House and Senate leadership serve at the will of their colleagues; in Sen. Koch’s case, it was pretty evident that her Republican colleagues in the Senate who pride themselves on championing “family values” were quite embarassed about their leader having an affair with a key staffer. Mr. Brodkorb was not particularly well liked by many Republican senators so when his affair with Sen. Koch became public, it was pretty easy for the caucus to get rid of him.

      Sen. Koch served out her term and chose not to run for re-election.

      I have no doubt whatsoever that if Mr. Brodkorb was the Senate Majority Leader and Ms. Koch was the caucus Communications Director and their affair become public, the outcome would have been the same: he would have been removed as majority leader and she would have been fired from her job.

      What happened to Ms. Koch and Mr. Brodkorb after their affair become public was not about gender or equal treatment, it was about politics. One issue where both Republican and DFL legislators seem to find common ground: they don’t like to be embarassed by their leaders getting caught in tawdry love affairs with their staff – especially in an election year.

  2. Submitted by James Hamilton on 04/30/2013 - 05:17 pm.

    Mr. Brodkorb’s certainly

    been dragging his feet getting this to trial, particularly in federal court, where cases normally move ahead much faster than in Minnesota district court. Then again, maybe he doesn’t really want it to get there.

  3. Submitted by Richard Pecar on 04/30/2013 - 07:23 pm.

    Jody, I couldn’t agree more…

    In my opinion both Representative Koch and Mr. Brodkorb were railroaded by a legislative kangaroo court.

    I have a hard time understanding why no women’s advocacy organization came to the aid of Koch. And to that point, no advocacy organization helped Monica Lewinsky either. At least the democrats and Linda Trip tried to get Lewinsky a job away from DC.

    All the repub’s who touched this Koch/Brodkorb issue should be shown the door next election. They don’t give a hoot about a human being’s right to privacy…they threw Koch and Brodkorb to the curb like old laundry.

    I didn’t care for either Kocks’ or Brodkorb’s political views, but I support thier right to privacy.

    • Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 05/01/2013 - 09:06 am.

      Poor Koch?

      “I have a hard time understanding why no women’s advocacy organization came to the aid of Koch. A…they threw Koch and Brodkorb to the curb like old laundry.”

      Are you serious? She was a person in power who abused her position. As unlikeable as Brodkorb might be he was still the subordinate. If the gender roles were reversed I suspect you’d be saying he used his position to coerce her into having sex with him. I don’t think my laundry smells this bad. While it may be true that others who have played that game got away with it, “don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time”. I think that the right to privacy ends at the point that you are using taxpayer time and resources to conduct your personal affairs. Koch has all the privacy she wants now up at her bowling alley. Brodkorb is obviously not ready to resume his affairs under a mantel of privacy.

      • Submitted by Richard Pecar on 05/01/2013 - 11:15 am.

        Come on now, give it a rest.

        And, by the way, where does all this “don’t do the crime stuff” come from? Are you saying a crime can be committed by two consenting adults in the privacy of their own space? And “taxpayer dollars” were used to conduct personal affairs; these are new allegations to me.

        You and I, and the legislature and the state’s population as a whole would be far better served if everyone’s time were spent trying to figure out where White Bear Lake’s water is going and what to do about it. That’s my opinion and it is just one of many opinions regarding what are the relevant challenges facing our state.

        This horse doesn’t run and I am really getting real tired of this entire hubbub about what happens below the people’s waist lines.

        None of this is relevant to my life; except as a matter of principle I always argue in favor of one’s right to privacy. Our country fought a war about 250 years ago as a matter of principle. Oh yeah, almost every war in our history was fought as a matter principle.

        If a crime was committed here…let the accuser step forward and file a complaint in court. It sounds to me like you like to monger rumors.

        • Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 05/01/2013 - 12:00 pm.

          crime is a metaphor

          Are you familiar with the use of language that uses metaphors and similies and things like that? I’ll try to be more clear for your sake. You get married, cheat on your spouse and bad things happen to you. You just got what you deserved because it all started with your poorly chosen actions. And in this case the “privacy of their own space” included and started at and ended at their job place, our state capitol. That’s not a rumor; it is a fact. Maybe they could have gotten around to plugging the leaks at White Bear Lake if they hadn’t been consumed with each other. Final thought: the only principle I see in many of our wars, including Iraq, Viet Nam, the Spanish-American war and others, is self interest, usually economic self interest. Once in a while there is a worthy cause like Liberty, but more often than not that word is used as a smoke screen for immoral domination.

  4. Submitted by Kim Millman on 05/01/2013 - 07:21 am.

    The Senate Should Not Settle

    While I agree that the good old GOP boys were out to brand Koch with a scarlet letter for political purposes, I also believe that she knew what she was in for when she chose to be Senate Leader and chose to pursue a romantic relationship with Broadkorp. She also chose to make enemies by uncompromisingly standing alone both with her own caucus and the Democrats. Koch could have fought back by calling a press conference of her own telling the good old boys where to go and put them on notice that they would have to publicly force her out, but she didn’t.

    We can all chose to play well with others or play hardball politics. If we choose hardball, we should not expect to play the victim card when someone paints a target on our backs. Both Koch and Broadkorp were very skilled at a particular brand of ruthlessness in their politics, yet seemed a bit surprised and very angry that the good old boys on their own team would turn the tables on them.

    Nope, the Senate should not settle, they should fight. If they settle, they will be setting themselves up for more rounds of hardball politics masquerading as some form of discrimination and thus more payouts of taxpayer money. The jury will find no heroes or victims, just a Republican Party tactical disgrace playing out on the taxpayer dime.

    Senator Bakk, fight on.

  5. Submitted by jody rooney on 05/01/2013 - 10:11 am.

    Give me a break guys

    Walk a mile in my heels and tell me that you think no Minority or Majority leader has never had an affair with a female staffer.

    Hypocritical gutless twits that they are politicians don’t go after the strong they go after the weak and it is pretty clear that they considered Ms. Koch weak.

    There are plenty of families values folks who don’t practice what they preach. But then if you come from a family that has always been sexist, racist, red neck, manipulative, hypocritical or what ever those are your family values. With so many dysfunctional families you would think a different set of values – like say social contract values, biblical, or even rational expectation principals might serve them better.

    This about politics and it is about equality, playing political hard ball is not constitutionally protected but equal treatment in employment is and that is the over riding issue.

    The Republicans don’t believe in a right to privacy, and just watch how their nominees vote when the issue comes to the Supreme Court. I frankly would like them to get out of my doctors office but leave the checkbook.

  6. Submitted by Richard Pecar on 05/01/2013 - 07:29 pm.

    Let’s face it…

    …among that portion of the U.S. population who read about and observe politics, about 70% have acquired the opinion in one form or another that the majority of repub’s are over the line…my view is nearly every elected republican views themselves’ anointed one of God’s cops. Pick you own pillar and fence post…from Terry Shivo to Koch/Brodkorb.

    To me the GOP conveys the viewpoint that states whereas our Heavenly Father may be Omnipotent, life on earth requires the GOP to vigilantly to patrol, indict and punish the portion of the citizenry the GOP believes is debauched. They view their job to see to it things are done right as they interpret righteousness. I assume that is how they came to fear Islam and GBLT community.

    In this instance, it was a Minnesota legislative GOP kangaroo court that first tried and then publicly leaked the Koch/Brodkorb affair. That wasn’t holy. My opinion is the whole thing was a power grab by certain power hungry repub’s and Koch and Brodkorb were political fodder or stepping stones.

    In this country we elect people to represent us and govern us. Our representatives are charged with the responsibility to protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; to provide for the common welfare and to protect our right to worship and trust in the God we love.

    And for the record I couldn’t stand the methods and politics used by Koch and Zellers in 2010 and 2011. But for me to stand and defend any American’s right to privacy and equal protection under the law is a different issue and that includes likes of Koch and Brodkorb.

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