Trial set in suit against GarCo jail’s ex-chief

A five-day jury trial has been scheduled to start Sept. 30 in a lawsuit against a former Garfield County jail commander accused of requiring a onetime employee to have sex with him to keep her job.

The trial setting comes after the Colorado Court of Appeals earlier this year rejected part of an appeal by Scott Dawson in a case brought against him by Lisa Martin.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Lou Vallario has yet to be formally dismissed as a defendant in the suit, a year and a half after a judge indicated he planned to grant that dismissal. However, the notice of trial indicates it applies only to Dawson, and not Vallario.

Martin, the daughter of county Commissioner John Martin, also contends in her suit that she was wrongfully terminated.

Dawson, who eventually was fired, claims his sexual relationship with Martin was consensual.

Ninth Judicial District Judge James Boyd previously dismissed any claims against Dawson for his workplace actions other than on the date of Martin’s May 22, 2007, termination date. Boyd found that 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 declined to dismiss the case to the degree that its allegations applied to sexual relations outside the workplace, saying the alleged behavior wasn’t covered by the immunity act and no notice of claim was required.

Dawson’s attorney, Jonathan Cross, said the appeals court found that all of Martin’s claims about things that allegedly occurred within Dawson’s scope of employment weren’t legally actionable because she failed to give timely notice of claim.

However, the court stood by Boyd’s decision that Dawson’s alleged actions outside work are actionable. Cross had argued that those actions allegedly occurred only because of the supervisor-employee relationship, and also should have come under the immunity act and its notice-of-claim requirement.

As for Vallario, according to court records, Boyd indicated in a June 2011 status conference that he would grant the sheriff’s motion to have the case against him dismissed. But Boyd still hasn’t issued a written order.

Vallario said by email that Boyd has indicated in more recent status conferences that he’s still working on the order.

“I hope he gets it done so I can put it in the win column with the others,” Vallario said.

His comment was an apparent reference to other suits against him that were either dismissed or settled on what he has characterized as favorable terms. Those suits involved jail inmate claims of mistreatment.


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