Former Douglas County Commissioner Gary Leif is suing the county for $7,269 in attorney fees.
The complaint, filed Friday in Douglas County Circuit Court, is an offshoot of the Hansen v. Hartman harassment and retaliation case that at one point involved nine parties, many of them county officials. All three county commissioners were dragged into the case, with Leif on the opposite side of the other two, Chris Boice and Tim Freeman. Leif has since left the board of commissioners and become a state legislator.
In Hansen v. Hartman, Leif was named as one of a group of defendants that Douglas County Chief Financial Officer Jessica Hansen alleged had worked together to retaliate against her after she reported then-assessor Roger Hartman for alleged gender harassment and alleged ethics violations.
In addition to Leif and Hartman, defendants in that case included the Douglas County government, assessor’s office employee Frank Lassen, and Larry Saccato, a friend of Hartman’s who was not a county employee. Saccato countersued Hansen, the county, Boice and Freeman and two county department heads.
Hansen filed the lawsuit in August 2017, and the case was settled in June 2018. The county paid Hansen $120,000 plus $20,000 in legal fees. Hartman retired from his office in July 2018, five months before his term was up.
Leif continues to maintain that Hansen’s claims about himself were untrue. Hansen’s complaint against Leif was dismissed in June 2018.
“I was included in a lawsuit that I had nothing to do with and exonerated after an investigation and yet the Commissioners failed to pay my legal fees that were required after they agreed to indemnify and defend me,” Leif said in an email Tuesday.
He said he’s only asking for money that should rightfully have been paid and nothing more.
Leif asserted the county had the legal duty to defend him as a county employee against lawsuits and failed to do so. However, some of the actions detailed in Hansen’s original complaint dealt with actions she alleged Leif and others took prior to his taking office as county commissioner.
According to the complaint filed Friday, the county settled with Leif over the legal expenses, agreeing to pay $8,152 of his $12,269 bill.
Leif said in his complaint that the county breached its settlement agreement, paying him only $5,000. He wants the county at the least to pay the remaining $3,152 under the settlement agreement, according to the complaint. The complaint said the county characterized the settlement payment as a wage and withheld the $3,152 in order to pay state and federal withholding taxes.
Leif has also asked the courts to award him a higher amount — a $7,269 payment that would cover the entire remainder of his legal expenses.
Despite the conflict, Leif asserted he had no hard feelings.
“I loved being a county commissioner and have no animosity towards the county whatsoever,” Leif said.
Freeman declined comment Tuesday due to pending litigation.