Tri States Public Radio Staff
Former Employee Claims Wrongful Termination
Tue February 5, 2013
Lee County Whistleblower Trial - Update
Update - 1:00 P.M. - Wednesday, Feb. 6
Day 2 of a wrongful termination trial in Lee County began the same way that Day 1 ended: with former Maintenance Director Rick Carter on the witness stand.
Carter sued the county in May 2011, claiming that he was fired in Nov. 2010 for being a whistleblower.
He testified for about six hours over two days on a variety of issues: the Lee County Jail, his work evaluations, his storage of county documents and his dealings with county employees.
Carter’s testimony wrapped up Wednesday afternoon.
20 more witnesses are expected to take the stand before the end of the week, including 8 current or former elected leaders.
Carter is seeking more than $640,000 to cover past, present and future wages along with attorney fees and interest.
1:00 P.M. - Tuesday, February 5
The trial is underway in the case of a former employee suing Lee County for being wrongfully terminated more than two years ago.
It took the attorneys for Lee County and for former Maintenance Director Rick Carter two hourse to seat a jury for the civil trial in the south Lee County Courthouse in Keokuk.
Five men and three women were selected from a pool of about 35 county residents.
Judge Mary Ann Brown told the jury that the trial could run through Friday, February 8, with jury deliberations possibly stretching into next week.
Rick Carter was fired by the Lee County Board of Supervisors in Nov. 2010. He responded in May 2011 with a lawsuit.
Carter's attorney, Curtis Dial, used his opening statement, following jury selection, to tell the jury that Carter was fired for being a whistleblower on finance mismanagment and environmental practices.
Dial referenced specifically to Carter's role in the addition to and expansion of the Lee County Jail several years ago.
Steve Ort, who is representing Lee County, countered that Carter was fired for a wide variety of work-related issues, not for being a whistleblower.
Ort also said Carter had no evidence to back up many of his claims against the county and outside contractors.
The witness list for the trial is expected to contain at least 20 names, including more than 15 current or former Lee County elected leaders, department heads or employees.
Carter is seeking past, present, and future pay plus attorney fees and interest.
Supervisor Rick Larkin
Supervisor Gary Folluo
Former Supervisor Janet Fife-LaFrenz
Supervisor Ernie Schiller
Former Supervisor Bob Woodruff
Former Supervisor Larry Kruse
Former Sheriff Buck Jones
Former Auditor Anne Pedersen
Now Set for February