Allen County Council votes 5-2 to use taxpayer money to settle sheriff's lawsuit

According to Allen County Sheriff David Gladieux’s attorney if the county would have voted not to pay the settlement the case would have gone to trial and could have cost taxpayers more than four times the amount being settled on.

Posted: Sep 17, 2020 1:50 PM
Updated: Sep 17, 2020 11:06 PM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) — The Allen County Council agreed on Thursday to use taxpayer dollars to settle a lawsuit against Allen County Sheriff David Gladieux regarding an incident at a festival where he is accused of pushing a teenage volunteer out of his way.

It has been a month since a settlement was agreed on in the lawsuit against Sheriff Gladieux filed by the family of a 15-year-old boy who was pushed by Gladieux at the Three Rivers Festival in July 2019.

Allen County Council meeting on Sept. 17, 2020

Allen County Sheriff David Gladieux

The Allen County Council voted 5-2 Thursday to pay the Bullerman family $55,000 to settle the pending litigation.

"We were put in a pickle. That's why we're writing that letter to him to reimburse," County Councilwoman Shelia Curry Campbell said.

According to court documents, the original tort claim filed by the Bullerman family asked for $300,000 in damages for medical costs, emotional distress and other damages.

If the county would have voted not to pay the settlement the case would have gone to trial and could have cost taxpayers more, according to Gladieux’s attorney Kal Miller.

Miller represents Gladieux in his individual capacity, not his professional capacity as Sheriff.

Miller told the county in two previous court cases, similar to this situation that he was apart of, " the cost of winning was $258,000 on average.

The council also agreed to ask Gladieux to pay the county back.

"Our hope is that he will chose to make the County whole from the consequences of his actions," Allen County Council President Joel Benz said.

Allen County Council President Joel Benz issued the following statement Thursday regarding the council's decision:

"Today the County Council acted on a settlement stemming from the Sheriff’s actions during the Three Rivers Festival last year.

"As Councilman Kerley stated during the discussion the County and our taxpayers stood to lose, lose, and lose from this.

"As presented by the legal team, the County was unfortunately drawn into this lawsuit because the Sheriff was sued in his official capacity.

"Fiscally speaking, to win the case based on recent similar cases would be approximated at $258,000.

"Losing at trial would cost over $500,000 just for legal fees and not including an additional awarded settlement.

"Therefore, a settlement of $55,000 suggested by the judge in the case was clearly the financially prudent thing to do.

"Morally speaking however, asking citizens of Allen County fund the settlement, was in the view of myself and the entire council as discussed at length during our meeting…repugnant.

"Therefore, we chose to send a direct request to the Sheriff as detailed below."

Benz also issued the following letter to Sheriff Gladieux to potentially repay the county the $55,000 from the settlement:

Sheriff Gladieux,

Today Allen County acted on your behalf, choosing to pay a settlement for your actions.

Despite the county legally being brought into the lawsuit during the incident, common sense would dictate that it was solely your character on trial.

As such, we believe any funds paid by the county for this settlement should be reimbursed by you personally and not borne by the citizens of Allen County.

We would request that you meet with [the county] council to work out the terms of the repayment in the next two weeks.

Thank you.
-Joel Benz
President Allen County Council

You can view the full meeting below.

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