Commonwealth Journal

Local News

May 10, 2013

Settlement talks fail; Cruey case to be tried

Lawsuit alleges retaliation by city

Somerset —

A lawsuit filed against the City of Somerset last year by an employee who claimed she was retaliated against for accusing a fellow employee of assault appears to be headed toward a trial date still after a settlement conference resulted in no compromise between the parties. 
Electronic documents accessed by the Commonwealth Journal detailing a lawsuit brought against the City of Somerset in U.S. District Court in London by SomerSplash Waterpark employee Brenda Cruey state that a conference, held on April 22, 2013, did not result in a settlement between Cruey and the city. According to an order entered by U.S. Magistrate Judge Hanly A. Ingram, both parties requested the settlement conference. 
The case, which began more than a year ago, will most likely go to trial in August of 2013. 
Cruey originally filed a criminal complaint in May 2011 against fellow employee Rhon Blevins following an incident during which Blevins allegedly screamed obscenities at Cruey and bumped his chest into hers while on the job at the water park. Cruey was laid off from her job temporarily following the incident, but was then told to return to work with fewer hours and altered responsibilities. 
Cruey sued the city, Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler, and Blevins, claiming that her layoff was in retaliation for the criminal complaint she filed. Cruey’s initial lawsuit claims Girdler stated that the reason she was laid off was “because she filed the criminal complaint against Blevins.” 
In August 2012 U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove granted the city’s plea that several counts of Cruey’s suit — that the city retaliated against a participant in a legal process, that the termi-nation of her employment violated Kentucky’s “Whistleblower Statute,” and that the defendants’ conduct was an intentional infliction of emotional distress —  be dismissed.
In his decision to dismiss Cruey’s whistleblower claims, Van Taten-hove said the Whistleblower Act only prohibits certain employers from discouraging individuals from reporting actual or suspected violations of law to authorities. Under state law, “employer” is defined as “the Commonwealth of Kentucky or any of its political subdivisions” and “any person authorized to act on behalf of the Commonwealth, or any of its political subdivisions. The judge said the state Supreme Court’s ruling prevents him from allowing Cruey’s whistleblower claim to continue.

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