Arnold Settles Ott Case for $450k

24 May

At long last, we know how much Arnold settled the Alicia Ott suit for – $450,000. Ott was the Arnold police officer who alleged sexual harassment by a fellow officer and wrongful termination by Chief Bob Shockey.

The settlement was approved by the city council on April 18 and finalized three days ago. That said, it is interesting that this news comes out Friday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend. Are they trying to bury this news? I don’t think it works that way in local government.

The city denies any liability, insists it had a strong case, and says that it was the insurance company’s idea to settle. City Attorney Bob Sweeney said to KMOV, “It would have been fiscally irresponsible not to accept the settlement.” This, of course, is the first time he has shown any concern for fiscal responsibility. He also said, “Do you ever hear those stories about animals that get caught in steel taps and they gnaw their own limbs off? That’s what it feels like [to settle this case].” This reminds me of that shrimpy, cocky kid on the schoolyard who hides behind his large, muscular friend and yells “I’m gonna kick your ass!” It is easy to talk this way after you settle a case, and any threat of losing is eliminated.

A curious note from Casenet from March 18 is as follows:

Plaintiff’s motion for Sanctions is called and heard.  Defendant City of Arnold is ordered to produce documents in response to Request Nos 9 and 10 of Plaintiff’s Third Request for Production within 10 days of the date of this order.  The Court sustains Defendant’s objections to Request Nos. 7 and 8 of Plaintiff’s Third Request for Production.  With regard to Request Nos. 1 through 6, Plaintiff will provide supporting case law to the Court and Defendant will have 48 hours to submit a response.  Defendant City of Arnold is order to pay Plaintiff attorneys’ fees in the amount of $871.50 within 10 days of the date of this Order. SO ORDERED:  NATHAN B. STEWART, CIRCUIT JUDGE DIV. THREE

This is after Ott’s lawyer asked several times for the court to compel Arnold to produce certain documents. What was Sweeney hiding here? These don’t seem to be the actions of someone with a great case. Note that the date of the above docket entry was about two weeks before the recent municipal election. Was someone trying to run out the clock, to get past election day before settling this case without releasing anything too damaging?

Will there be any repercussions to this settlement at the Arnold Police Department? Doesn’t look like it. Shockey is still the chief, and alleged harasser Owen Conarow is still employed by the city. He was supposedly “disciplined” at some point. Recall that Shockey angrily said in March that “to convict my officers before anything is done is unacceptable.” Well, something’s been done. Can we “convict” now?

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