Senate calls on judge to toss Brodkorb suit

Michael Brodkorb is suing the state Senate over his firing. (MPR Photo/Tim Nelson)

Attorneys for the Minnesota Senate have asked a federal judge to dismiss Michael Brodkorb’s wrongful termination lawsuit against the Senate.

In a filing today, attorneys claim that Brodkorb and his attorneys deliberately released confidential information about alleged affairs between lawmakers and staffers that should have been placed under seal. They dispute Brodkrob’s claim that the filing was unintentional.

“Despite the Plaintiff’s claims that the leak of confidential information was a “mistake” or inadvertent, it is part and parcel of Plaintiff’s consistent, blatant and continuing litigation strategy of attempting to try this case before the media rather than the Court,” Senate attorney Dayle Nolan wrote in the motion. “The Plaintiff’s ‘accidental’ public filing of confidential material was no accident — it was a deliberate attempt to further the Plaintiff’s aim of embarrassing the Senate. Not only is this a clear and direct violation of the Court’s Protective Order, but it is also a flagrant abuse of the discovery process. The Court is fully justified in levying the harshest sanctions against the Plaintiff.”

If U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan decides against dismissing the case, Nolan wants the judge to forbid Brodkorb from using the leaked evidence at trial. She also wants the judge to order Brodkorb to pay the Senate’s legal bills — $228,000 through June.

One of Brodkorb’s attorneys, Phil Villaume, stepped aside from the case as a result of the release of the confidential information on July 3. The information was initially filed on a public court website and was obtained by MPR News and the Associated Press.  It was then taken down from the website.

Brodkorb told MPR News earlier this month that the effort to have him pay the Senate’s legal fees is an attempt to divert public attention away from his claims.

“I believe very strongly in the merits of this case,” Brodkorb said. “It’s a way for the Senate to distract from the fact that they have paid these fees.”

Brodkorb is suing the Senate for wrongful dismissal. He said he was fired for having an affair with former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, a Republican, even though female staffers who had affairs with male lawmakers did not lose their jobs.

The Senate contends Brodkorb was an at-will employee who was legally fired. Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said it’s common for top level staffers to be dismissed when a majority leader is removed or steps down.

“There’s been a precedent of the communications director reporting to the leader of the Senate,” Bakk said in an interview. “When that person loses their job so does the communications director.”

A hearing on the motion is scheduled for Aug. 29.

Here’s Nolan’s motion:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/160538723/Senate-motion-for-dismissal