Polk County Supervisors Set to Vote on $60,000 Settlement in Explosive Libel Case against Fellow Officials

POLK COUNTY, Iowa – Polk County supervisors are expected to vote on a proposed $60,000 settlement to resolve a unique and explosive case brought by Supervisor Matt McCoy against four fellow supervisors and County Administrator John Norris. The settlement, recommended by Polk County Risk Management, would cover McCoy’s current and future legal costs. According to the resolution, the settlement is seen as the best way to resolve the claims without the expenses and risks of continued litigation.

Supervisors have announced plans to release a joint statement following the meeting on Tuesday. McCoy’s lawsuit is one of several filed by current or former county employees during a contentious period in county politics that began when he took office in 2019. Another civil suit, filed in 2021 by former human resources chief Jim Nahas, is scheduled to go to trial in October.

Before McCoy took office, the county faced allegations of a hostile work environment, electioneering, and harassment by employees. McCoy accused county leaders of ignoring these matters and claimed they exposed him to public ridicule and threatened his professional reputation. He also alleged that they coerced others into making false statements about him. In his lawsuit filed last year, McCoy claimed that fellow supervisors and Norris intentionally campaigned to remove him and Nahas from their positions.

The county is also facing a discrimination and retaliation lawsuit brought by Deputy County Administrator Sarah Boese against McCoy and the county. Boese’s former assistant, Julie McCauley, filed a separate lawsuit against Boese personally for abuse of process and intentional infliction of emotional distress. However, McCauley dropped a lawsuit against the county related to her workers’ compensation benefits claim.

McCoy, who defeated longtime supervisor John Mauro in a bitter and costly race, vowed to clean up the county government. He accused county leaders of failing to investigate serious issues raised by employees about county officials. Nahas, who was fired after six years as the county’s human resources chief, alleged that county leaders used county resources to defend themselves while denying McCoy access to information and legal representation.

The case has had its ups and downs, with the Iowa Supreme Court nullifying several of Nahas’ claims but allowing him to proceed with his allegations of libel and civil conspiracy. The outcome of McCoy’s lawsuit and the resolution of the settlement are eagerly awaited, as they could impact the dynamics and future of Polk County government.

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