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County has 14 claims, legal actions pending

St. Croix County has 14 pending or unasserted claims ranging from injuries caused by traffic accidents to alleged mistreatment in the jail, reported Risk Manager Kristen Ziliak on Monday.

Ziliak outlined the incidents and their status in her public report to the Finance Committee.

Corporation Counsel Greg Timmerman said that because the claims are pending or potential, neither he nor Ziliak may answer questions about the county's exposure or the validity of the claims.

This list is short compared to other years, commented Finance Director Michelle Pietrick.

These are some of the claims:

  • Justin J. Bartz was injured May 3, 2006, when his vehicle ran into the back of a county road grader that was turning. The county filed a claim for $26,437 against Bartz's insurance company, which in turn filed a claim against the county for $10,649. A hearing is set for May 8.
  • Thomas Bessa is alleging jail staff failed to follow doctor's instructions regarding his care and medication while he was jailed, requiring that he seek further medical care when he was released. No formal complaint has been filed.
  • Todd Bottolfson filed a notice of injury claiming that on Jan. 21, 2006, he was emotionally injured when he was strip searched in the jail. He had been arrested for drunk driving. No claim has been filed. But this February, Bottolfson's attorney asked for county insurance information. Ziliak said jail records show he was not strip searched.
  • Rodney and Rosanne Cook filed a claim April 20, saying highway workers cut down numerous dogwood and lilac trees on their property. They are asking for $6,923 to $7,201 in damages.
  • Jeremy P. Gruwell filed a claim last July alleging employees of the Sheriff's Department negligently prepared reports listing him as a "registered sex offender" and those reports were printed in local newspapers. He has filed a civil lawsuit asking for $50,000 for pain, emotional distress and damage to reputation.
  • Trevor Helgeson filed a notice of claim last September, claiming he was injured as a result of hitting a tree that had fallen across the road. Ziliak said highway workers came to the site but left to get more equipment, leaving another county employee to warn of the downed tree. But, she said, that person also left.
  • There is a potential claim regarding the death of Brandon Hessler while he was an inmate at the jail in March. No claim has yet been filed.
  • Nathaniel Johnson has filed a small claims complaint, saying his 4th Amendment rights were violated when a deputy searched Johnson's vehicle. Johnson is demanding $5,000 plus court costs.
  • Former county nursing home director Carolyn Krieger has filed a complaint with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development Equal Rights Division. She is alleging sex and age discrimination after the county terminated her employment Jan. 30, 2006.
  • Daniel and Ruth Linneman filed a claim for damages Dec. 7 alleging a deputy drove his squad car in a negligent manner and rear-ended their vehicle on Sept. 10, 2004. No formal summons and complaint have been filed. The Linnemans are asking for $356,617 in damages. The county's insurance company has paid $5,273 for property damage.
  • Joshua Sherin filed a notice of injury, alleging he was injured by staff in the county jail in the summer of 2005. He is asking for $76,000 in damages but has filed no formal complaint. Sherin is now serving a 17-year prison sentence.
  • A notice of circumstances of claim was filed in January alleging Michelle Zappa and her two children were injured in a collision with a county Parks Department truck on Oct. 2, 2006. No dollar amount was specified. So far $5,263 has been paid for property damage.

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