Appeal pursued in Garfield County jail lawsuit

The former commander of the Garfield County Jail is planning to appeal a judge’s ruling only partially dismissing a lawsuit by a former employee who contends he required her to have sex with him to keep her job.

Meanwhile, Ninth Judicial District Court Judge James Boyd has indicated an intent to dismiss Sheriff Lou Vallario as a defendant in the case, but has yet to formally act.

Lisa Martin, daughter of county Commissioner John Martin, sued Vallario and Scott Dawson, contending she was wrongfully terminated and that she submitted to Dawson’s requests for sex in order to keep her job. Dawson, who eventually was fired, claims the relationship was consensual.

Dawson has sought to have the lawsuit dismissed, saying it wasn’t filed in a legally timely fashion. A hearing on Dawson’s motion was held in March.

Boyd later ruled that any claims against Dawson for his workplace actions other than on the date of Martin’s May 22, 2007, termination date were dismissed. Boyd said Martin failed to file a notice of claim within 180 days of any of the prior actions’ occurrence, as required under the state’s Government Immunity Act.

However, he also denied the motion to dismiss to the degree that it applied to sexual relations outside the workplace. Martin says such relations occurred weekly.

“This alleged behavior was beyond the scope of Dawson’s employment,” Boyd wrote in his ruling. “Therefore, this conduct is not covered by the (Governmental Immunity Act), and no notice was required.”

On May 31, Dawson’s attorney, Jonathan Cross, said in a court filing that he plans an appeal. The notice of appeal indicated it will raise the issue of whether an individual must file a notice of claim for supervisor actions outside of work “that occurred only as a result of the supervisor’s misuse of his authority,” and whether the immunity act applies to actions outside the workplace that are “a direct result of the parties’ supervisor-employee relationship.”

Meanwhile, according to court records, Boyd has verbally advised that a summary judgment is being entered for Vallario. James Bradford, clerk of courts in Garfield County, said that would appear to indicate Boyd is dismissing all claims against Vallario, but he said Boyd has yet to issue a written order.

In an e-mail, Vallario said that in a phone conference with the lawsuit parties several weeks ago “Boyd ‘indicated’ a possible ruling favorable to me,” but his attorney advised him it’s not official until it’s in writing.

“I guess he could always change his mind. We have all been waiting several weeks for an order, but nothing yet and my attorney says I should not discuss any outcomes until then,” Vallario said.


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