Settlement agreements reached in federal Civil Rights Act lawsuits against county, city, retired sheriff

By: 
Dave Marner
County, Rosebud insurance providers settle ‘Jane Doe’ claims; amended complaint filed Monday against Hermann, city police

Two separate federal civil rights lawsuits brought by “Jane Doe” plaintiffs alleging they were sexually assaulted by a former Gasconade County Sheriff’s deputy, Marty Rainey, now deceased by his own hand, have been terminated, according to court records. 

At least one of those cases resulted in a settlement from insurance providers for two government entities named as defendants by the same victim. Another settlement appears to be pending in the case brought by another victim.

And, attorneys for the victim who has reached a settlement have filed an amended complaint alleging  violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act which names as defendants the city of Hermann, its former police chief, its current chief, and four police officers individually. 

The 60-page “second amended complaint” filed on behalf of “D.P., legal guardian for Jane Doe” was filed Oct. 5 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District in St. Louis.

Blake D. Hill, with the St. Louis law firm of King Krehbiel  & Hellmich, LLC, filed a 32-page response on Monday on behalf of the city of Hermann and its police officers essentially denying all the allegations.

“I don’t have any comment on ongoing litigation,” said Hill on Tuesday about the amended complaint. “It’s out there, it’s pending, we’ll see where it goes.”

The case filed by the mother of a 25-year-old woman described in court documents as “mentally incapacitated” has been resolved which included a settlement of $500,000 from the insurance carrier for Gasconade County, according to a published account in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. And, The Republican has learned, there was a $60,000 settlement from the insurance provider for the city of Rosebud.

That case, “DP as legal guardian,”  included allegations of  federal American Civil Rights Act violations filed against Gasconade County and former sheriff Randy Esphorst, along with the city of Rosebud. Those actions were terminated earlier in 2017.

The case against Esphorst individually and the county was terminated June 22. The case against the city of Rosebud was terminated Aug. 31.

D. Keith Henson with the Clayton, Mo., law firm Paule, Camazine, & Blumenthal, P.C., confirmed Tuesday there was a $60,000 settlement in the civil rights case filed against the city of Rosebud in “D.P., legal guardian for Jane Doe.”

“The city of Rosebud is out of the case,” said Henson. “It’s been resolved. The case is dismissed.”

He said he could not disclose who paid  the settlement as it “was settled on a confidential basis.” 

However, The Republican requested and received copy of the settlement agreement from Henson, via the Missouri Sunshine Law, which indicates Savers Property & Casualty, Co., was responsible for paying the settlement. While the agreement states it should remain confidential to all parties involved, the document — which was prepared by attorneys from both sides — specified it could be legally obtained  through a Sunshine request.

Since the case involved sexual assaults against the plaintiff, The Republican has chosen to not release the victim’s name or the name of her mother — both of whom were identified by their full names in the settlement agreement. In the amended complaint which names the city of Hermann and its police officers, the mother and daughter were identified as being Montgomery County residents.

In a second Jane Doe case, a Bay woman alleged similar sexual assaults were committed against her by Rainey. On May 17, 2017, however, lawyers for the plaintiff filed a stipulation for dismissal with prejudice. The county and Esphorst, the retired sheriff, were both named as defendants in that lawsuit as well as was Rainey, who took his own life by hanging while in federal custody in March 2017.

“As far as the county is concerned, we’re out,” said Ivan Schraeder, special counsel to the Gasconade County Commission. 

He added he was not involved in representing any other public entities beside Gasconade County. “I was special counsel to the county to keep them advised and give them updates.”

Continental Western was the county’s insurance provider during the time the alleged civil rights violations occurred and will pay the settlement, he said.

What Schraeder did not confirm, however, was what the settlement amount was between Continental Western and the case involving “D.P. as legal guardian for Jane Doe” against the county and Esphorst.

He previously told the Post-Dispatch there was a $300,000 settlement. The Post-Dispatch reported Thursday the lawyers for “D.P. and Jane Doe” settled for $500,000.

“That’s my understanding, $300,000,” said Schraeder. “Apparently there’s another settlement with a judgement of $500,000. My understanding is everything is resolved.”

Daniel J. Orlowsky, of Orlowsky Law, LLC., in St. Louis, would not comment directly on the settlement amount but noted there had been a previously published account of the case which listed the settlement.

Schraeder mentioned the city of Rosebud had also settled it’s portion of the case.

Asked about documents on the settlement, he said he did not have any nor did the county. “Whoever is fishing for information, there are no documents,” he said. “There was no (commission) vote. There was an agreement. It’s all a settlement of the insurance (provider).” 

He spoke with commissioner’s in a closed session via telephone during the county’s Oct. 19 meeting. The stated reason for the discussion was “litigation,” according to the minutes. “No motions were made, and no votes were taken on any matter,”
 according to minutes kept by County Clerk Lesa Lietzow.

She countered a published account that she refused to turn over documents involving the county’s involvement in the case. “There’s no documents involving the commission,” she said. “I didn’t refuse anything. The commission asked Ivan for information and was told that if anyone had any questions they should be referred to him.”

Schraeder reiterated the decision to settle the case was made by the insurance carrier which no longer covers the county.

“It averted a long, protracted lawsuit,” said Schraeder. “It brings everything to a close for the county. That, for the county, works. The county had to expend no resources. In that sense, that’s good for the taxpayers.”

Schraeder said there is no admission of liability on behalf of the county. “That’s fairly standard,” he added.

In the amended complaint filed on behalf of “D.P.” and her daughter by Orlowsky and Adam M. Goffstein, also a private attorney, they allege that Hermann police have continued to violate the woman’s civil rights through “intimidation, harassment and retaliatory action” since she first reported the sexual assaults committed against her by Rainey and a co-conspirator Jonathan E. Pohlmann.

Pohlmann, a rural Owensville resident at the time of his 2015 arrest, pleaded guilty to a federal complaint for conspiring to violate civil rights in the spring of 2016 and was sentenced in June 2016 to 10 years in federal prison. He also received a 7-year state sentence on felony charges related to the sexual assaults of multiple women who he came in contact with through Rainey.

Rainey took his own life days after Pohlmann entered his guilty plea in U.S. District Court.

The complaint notes the initial contact between Jane Doe and Rainey began on Jan. 29, 2012, when the former county deputy took a report on a vehicle vandalism which took place at the family’s home. As with the case that was settled, Rainey is alleged to have sent 1,670 text messages to Doe through Feb. 20, 2012. Many were sexual in nature, according to the complaint. 

Rainey was in his Hermann police uniform during the sexual assault incidents alleged in the complaint.

“Hermann Police Officer Rainey targeted Jane Doe because she is mentally disabled. He contacted her repeatedly while on duty with the city of Hermann, demanding she perform sex acts,” according to Orlowsky and  Goffstein  in a joint statement issued Tuesday to the media. “He raped her while wearing his Hermann Police uniform and carrying his weapon.

“After Jane Doe reported it, Hermann Police showed no sorrow or empathy. In fact, as the lawsuit states, the Hermann Police Department harassed and intimidated her over the course of years. This behavior still continues even after her suit was filed. When Jane Doe is driven to and from work in the Hermann city limits by her family, they are followed almost daily by Hermann police cars from the time they enter the city until they leave.” Hermann Police Chief Marlon Walker denied the allegations in a story in the Post-Dispatch.

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