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.
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.”