by Rick Langenberg:
The commissioners last week approved settlement agreements for two former sheriff deputies, amounting to close to $200,000. These deal with federal lawsuits and related legal action filed against the county.
The commissioners approved a $44,500 agreement for Kimberly Berube and a $120,000 agreement for Nicole Jackson. With these pacts, both former employees can’t take any further action against the county.
With this action, the county’s insurance provider will provide the bulk of the settlement payment. But the county government must foot the bill for $20,000 for one of the payments and its deductible premium would be impacted.
The commissioners and a representative of the law firm representing Teller County, Sparks Willson Borges Brandt and Johnson, didn’t discuss the suits in detail, but indicated settling these actions benefited the county to avoid court costs. The commissioners unanimously approved the attorney’s recommendations.
The issue of lawsuits against the sheriff’s department has been a point of contention. A group of critics and sheriff challenger Danny Riley have contended that claims against the agency by former employees are a subject of strong concern, especially for a county the size of Teller.
Incumbent Sheriff Mike Ensminger and the commissioners, though, say these suits are not that unusual. In a recent interview, Ensminger said Teller’s rate of employee-related lawsuits is lower than the national average.