Both Hedquist, Patterson Want Federal Lawsuit Settlement Talks To Stay Private
You will not know how much money, if any, the City of Casper will pay to Councilman Craig Hedquist if he prevails in his federal lawsuit against City Manager John Patterson.
Late Friday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Kelly Rankin approved a protective order that blocks the disclosure of what happens, such as settlement offers, in talks behind closed doors with Hedquist, Patterson, their attorneys and the Wyoming Association of Risk Management (WARM), which is a publicly funded insurance organization that covers liability and property losses.
"All such information shall be kept confidential between the parties and their counsel of record in this matter and the Wyoming Association of Risk Management, and shall not be disclosed to other individuals or entities," according to the order filed by Hedquist's attorneys in the firms of Jamieson & Robinson in Jackson and Champman Valdez & Lansing in Casper, and by Patterson's attorney's in the firms of Lewis Roca Rothgerber in Casper and Crowell & Moring in Cheyenne.
The only attorney who could be reached Friday afternoon was Bruce Salzburg of Crowell & Moring, and he declined to comment.
Hedquist sued Patterson in federal court in early 2014 over alleged retaliation against him for freely speaking about city management after his election in November 2012. Hedquist wants Patterson to pay for his legal counsel and punitive damages, if any. U.S. District Court Judge Alan Johnson scheduled the trial to begin Jan. 19, 2016.
This mutual request for silence comes on the heels of more than a loud year among the council and the public.
The noise included alleged conflicts of interest by Hedquist and his construction company's contracts with the city, a fall election campaign of council candidates resolving to heal differences among members, a citizen's complaint filed against Patterson about city employees' work on a noncity resident's pond, and, of course, Hedquist's federal lawsuit.
The civic tenor hit its nadir at a May 5 council meeting when council approved a measure that would enable the city to pay punitive damages for its contract employees: the city's attorney, municipal judges and the city manager.
Some members of the public objected to a lack of transparency when the measure was placed on the consent agenda without much of a public discussion.
Meanwhile in the lobby of City Hall, Patterson's wife, Cindy, claimed Sam Wiseman allegedly assaulted her when she was taking pictures, and she wanted to press charges.
Those charges were dropped. Wiseman demanded an apology from council on Tuesday. Hedquist was the only member to apologize, adding he didn't expect much from his fellow council members when he said, "All this other gay garbage that you guys want to do is a joke."
Now, Hedquist and Patterson want to be on the same side.
The proposed protection order for confidentiality will allow only these parties to see what happens: the executive director of WARM, the attorneys and their employees, any consultants hired for settlement talks, Hedquist and Patterson, and the court.
Thirty days after the case is over, all communications and confidential information will be destroyed.
The protection order will continue after the case is over, too, and can only be modified by a court order.
Everybody involved with the case will be bound by written and signed agreements.
"Any violation of the Protective Order by any party, counsel of record, or any person executing a copy of the Agreement To Be Bound By Protective Order shal be subject penalties as enumerated in the Agreement, including but not limite to, contempt of court and fines, to be determined by this Court."