El Paso County Commissioners have voted to approve two settlements in claims brought against the Sheriff’s office, former Sheriff Terry Maketa, and former Undersheriff Paula Presley. The claims allege lost income and benefits due to a hostile work environment.
County Attorney Amy Folsom said at Tuesday morning’s commissioner’s meeting that her office has analyzed the risk of liability and evaluated the potential cost of litigation in each case.
"The operative question is, ‘was the injury, were the effects upon the employee so egregious, so pervasive, so severe, done for such the wrong reason, that it actually rises to the level of a potentially legally cognizable claim?’" said Folsom.
Before the votes, current El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder encouraged approval of the agreements.
"It puts to rest at least part of the issues that have continued to bring themselves up in our administration," said Elder. "So we need to move forward, [and] this is part of that healing process."
Elder also said that one of the former employees who brought one of the settled suits is re-employed with the sheriff’s department, and the other will soon be.
The payout totals nearly $208,000 and will come from funds already appropriated to the Sheriff’s office, as well as the El Paso County Risk Management Fund.
One settlement passed unanimously; Commissioner Amy Lathen was the lone ‘no’ vote on the other, citing differences in the cases.