Brian Bakst, Associated Press, Published August 28 2013
Fate of Brodkorb lawsuit in hands of federal judgeMINNEAPOLIS — Attorneys wrangled before a judge Wednesday over whether a botched court filing should lead to dismissal of a Minnesota Senate aide's lawsuit or result in costly sanctions against his lawyers.
Federal Magistrate Arthur Boylan is weighing the fate of Michael Brodkorb's wrongful termination case, which took an abrupt turn last month when his side improperly disclosed a list of alleged Capitol affairs involving lawmakers and staffers. Brodkorb is trying to prove he prove he was treated unfairly when he was fired for his affair with the GOP Senate leader, but both parties in the case agree the list should have been filed confidentially as dictated by a protective order.
In July, the document was briefly posted to a publicly accessible court site. The Associated Press downloaded it and reported on its contents without naming those accused of having extramarital affairs.
Senate attorney Dayle Nolan said the fact the list became public makes it tougher for them to present a defense. They fear that potential witnesses, including those named in the document, won't talk willingly because they fear more information could slip out. Nolan said the case should be thrown out or some evidence excluded as the lawsuit heads toward potential trial. At a minimum, Nolan said Brodkorb's side should pay the Senate's attorney fees for dealing with the aftermath.
"What would be unjust is to have the Minnesota taxpayers pay for this fiasco," she told Boylan.
The Senate has already spent more than $225,000 on the case and has set aside another $500,000 for potential legal fees.
Brodkorb's lawyer Gregory Walsh said the disclosure was accidental and shouldn't be grounds for ending the case. He rebutted Senate claims that Brodkorb and his attorneys deliberately put the document in the public domain to build pressure toward a settlement.
"There is no evidence Mr. Brodkorb participated willfully in any manner, conspiracy theories aside," he said.
Boylan didn't indicate when he would rule. The case is in the pre-trial discovery phase and not scheduled to reach trial before next summer.
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