Following a ruling from the Kentucky Attorney General’s Officer, McCreary County Judge Executive Doug Stephens released details on the settlement reached between the County and Rhonda and David Ivey in their harassment and wrongful termination suit.
According to the document both parties agreed to dismiss the case and forgo any further legal actions for a one-time lump sum payment of $73,800 from the insurance carrier to the Iveys.
The document does include provisions preventing either party from disclosing the terms of the settlement, and are ordered to simply reply “no comment” when asked about the case.
The issue went to the Attorney General’s Office after the McCreary County Record filed an open records request with Judge Stephens and the Kentucky Association of Counties (KACo), the insurance carrier who retained legal counsel in the case in an attempt to learn the details of the settlement.
The response from the Judge Executive stated he did not have a copy of the settlement to release, and KACo claimed to not have the “public records” asked for in the request.
The McCreary County Record appealed to the Attorney General’s Office noting that no document relating to a gag order or confidentiality agreement was available through a public records search.
The Attorney General’s Office ruled since there was no court order available to support the claim of a confidentiality agreement, Judge Stephens violated open records law in not providing the document.
After the ruling, Judge Stephens obtained a copy of the settlement order and released it to the media to comply with the Attorney General’s directive.
Judge Stephens stated he did not purposely withhold information, citing the fact he did not have a copy of the settlement until last week, and believed he was acting in good faith under the non-disclosure terms explained to him by the attorneys in regard to the non-disclosure aspect of the dismissal.
The four-page document does state the agreement is not an indication of guilt by the defendants in the case.
“It is further understood that neither consideration furnished, nor the negotiations for settlement by the Released Parties, their attorneys or representatives, shall be considered admissions by them, and that no past or present wrongdoing on the part of the Released Parties, who specifically deny any wrongdoing or liability, shall be implied by such payment or negotiation,” it read.
According to documents filed in the United States District Court in London on August 30, of 2014 both parties agreed to dismiss the case, with each side to pay their own share of costs and legal fees.
At the time McCreary County Judge Executive Doug Stephens confirmed there was an agreement between both parties to dismiss the case, but could not discuss details, citing a non-disclosure agreement.
The County was represented by the Kentucky Association of Counties, which provides insurance and legal assistance to counties in the state.
Attorney Jason Williams, who represented the defendants in the case also offered no comments and would not disclose any information regarding the agreement.