The McCreary County Record

Local News

May 29, 2014

Settlement conference ordered in EMS harassment case

LONDON — Nearly two years after it was filed, a federal harassment suit against McCreary County may be nearing its end.

    In an order signed last Tuesday, United States Magistrate Judge Hanly Ingram has scheduled a settlement conference for July 9 in Lexington to be attended by all parties named in Ivey v. McCreary County. Both sides will be required to submit a “candid assessment” of the case which includes an appraisal of liability, damages and the cost of proceeding to trial.

    “Bona fide settlement discussions shall commence as soon as practicable and be conducted as often as necessary prior to the settlement conference,” Judge Ingram concluded. “The parties should consider a Court-conducted settlement conference to be a one-time opportunity that, if unsuccessful, will not be reconvened in the absence of extraordinary developments indicating a reasonable possibility of settlement.”

    The suit was filed in July 2012 by David and Rhonda Ivey of Somerset against McCreary County Fiscal Court, McCreary County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Jimmy Barnett, who now serves as EMS/911 Director.

    According to the complaint, David Ivey joined McCreary County EMS in 2001 as a paramedic while his wife was hired as an emergency medical technician (EMT) in 2004. Much of the suit hinges on alleged sexual harassment by Barnett toward Mrs. Ivey, beginning in January 2009 when Barnett was serving as assistant fire chief of the Whitley City Fire Department.

    When Barnett joined EMS in September 2010 as a part-time EMT, the Iveys allege the harassment “continued and escalated.” Barnett then applied for the Director’s position the following May and was approved by a 3-1 Fiscal Court vote on June 27, 2011. The Iveys were terminated on July 1.

    Mrs. Ivey is alleging the defendants subjected her to a discriminatory workplace while Mr. Ivey claims he was terminated in violation of Kentucky’s Whistleblower Statute because he complained to multiple parties about his wife being harassed.

    Both plaintiffs claim to “have suffered from a loss of income and benefits, severe emotional distress and mental anxiety.” They are seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages as well as legal fees.

    In a motion to dismiss the suit, the county called the Iveys’ claims “baseless” and lacking evidentiary support.

    In April 2013, U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove dismissed claims against Barnett in his individual capacity with the exception of alleged retaliation.

    The Iveys are represented by Covington-based attorney Anthony Bucher while the county is represented by London-based attorney Jason Williams.

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