Hemmah's lawsuit against city concludes
A drawn out legal battle between the City of Red Wing's top brass and a former employee concluded last week. Several years after Daniel Hemmah filed suit against his former employer, Red Wing paid him $1.
Red Wing fired Hemmah in 2006 after his superiors alleged he undermined and lied to them while overseeing the city's wastewater treatment facilities.
Hemmah denied any wrongdoing and alleged the city unjustly fired him and tarnished his reputation. He sued the city for a number of claims, which were dismissed, except one - that Red Wing denied him a name-clearing hearing.
Federal law guarantees that terminated public employees be given name-clearing hearings, which allow the employee to refute any claims made by their employers during a termination.
A jury trial found the city and two individual officials culpable - City Council Administrator Kay Kuhlmann and Employee Service Director Roger Seymour. Red Wing was charged to pay Hemmah $250,000 in damages.
But after the trial, U.S. District Judge Joan Erickson reduced the amount to $50,000, asserting damages awarded by the jury were over the top. She also absolved Kuhlmann and Seymour.
Hemmah pursued a second trial in May 2009 to re-argue damages. That jury absolved Red Wing of any damages.
Hard feelings remain. In an e-mail to the R-E, Hemmah reiterated his contention that Kuhlmann made false statements about him.
"The City Council should hold Kay Kuhlmann accountable for making false statements, and the City Council should value the truth more than money. I know I do," Hemmah said.
Kuhlmann, meanwhile, said she is relieved that the case is over.
"It definitely was the most difficult personnel related issue we've dealt with," she said.