Lawsuit between Oak Creek, ex-mayor settled

Kathy “Cargo” Rodeman will receive $25,000 from the town

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Kathy "Cargo" Rodeman

— A lawsuit filed against the town of Oak Creek by former Mayor Kathy “Cargo” Rodeman has been settled for $25,000.

“This offer is less than an offer made early in the case for $25,000 plus paying for Ms. Rodeman’s costs and reasonable attorney fees,” Colorado Springs lawyer Gordon L. Vaughan said in an email Friday.

Vaughan was representing the town and town officials in the civil lawsuit, which was filed in federal court.

“The settlement recently entered into was made, by defendants, to avoid the cost of further litigation, trial and a threatened appeal by Ms. Rodeman that could have extended this matter for another several years,” he wrote. “Such further litigation costs would have greatly exceeded the amount of this settlement.”

Rodeman filed the suit in response to her 2008 arrest by former Oak Creek police officer Erik Foster. He arrested Rodeman on July 19, 2008. Foster has said he tried to stop Rodeman in her car because she failed to use her turn signal and said she then fled to her home. Foster has said he pursued Rodeman into her home and used a Taser to subdue and arrest her because she wasn’t cooperating.

Rodeman has said that she didn’t commit any traffic infractions and that Foster unlawfully forced his way into her home and used excessive force.

“The settlement agreement provides, in part, that there is no admission of wrongful conduct by the town and, indeed, it continues to be defendants’ position that no wrongful conduct occurred,” Vaughan said.

The settlement also states, however, that Rodeman "denies that there was no basis for liability, or that liability could not have been established in a court of law."

Vaughan said the town’s insurance company would pay the settlement and expenses related to the litigation.

Rodeman's attorney, Lonn Heymann, called Foster's actions "outrageous."

"The $25,000 settlement is substantial relative to the verdicts in this type of case in United States District Court in Colorado," he said in an email.

Vaughan said that before the settlement, many of Rodeman’s claims had been dismissed, including all claims against Town Board members, the claims against former Police Chief Russ Caterinicchio and the claims against Foster that he had assaulted Rodeman or used excessive force.

“On that issue, the court found that Ms. Rodeman had resisted the efforts by officer Foster to take her into custody and that the force he used, including the use of his Taser, was objectively reasonable,” Vaughan said.

The lingering issue in the lawsuit that had not yet been decided by the courts, Vaughan said, was whether there was an illegal search and seizure and trespass.

Heymann said if the town had not settled, many of the issues would have gone to court.

"Most of the claims from the original court filing were going to trial," he said. "The jury would have heard evidence — including the Tasings — supporting the claims of unlawful entry, unlawful arrest, false imprisonment, illegal search, and outrageous conduct. That was a good reason for the town to settle."

Rodeman said Friday that she settled the case in part because it would have inconvenienced a lot of people had it gone to trial and the process was expensive.

“I ended up borrowing a lot of money to keep it going and the settlement was enough where I could pay these people back and not lose my home,” Rodeman said. “Would I have liked to have been more vindicated? Absolutely.”

Rodeman posted a statement on her Facebook page criticizing Foster’s actions and reflecting on the incident and the lawsuit.

“I don’t blame the town for what happened to me,” she wrote. “I love Oak Creek. I love the people who supported me through all that happened, and my family and friends who stood by me. … I just hope that our town is more cautious when hiring and retaining our law enforcement officers in the future.”

She also noted that she’s heard “nothing but respect from everyone I have talked to for Oak Creek’s current policeman, Officer Lance Dunaway.”

Rodeman also wrote that her children have agreed to help her write a book titled “Tased & Confused,” which would detail the experience from her perspective.

— To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

max huppert 3 years, 5 months ago

Going to be a keg party on Grant St. Please get the good stuff,, Hi Scott,,

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mmjPatient22 3 years, 5 months ago

It's so unfortunate that justice can be so expensive at times.

I wish I could afford some.

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CONative 3 years, 5 months ago

I find it hard to believe Rodeman's statement that she loves Oak Creek. The town is strapped for cash and has had to spend time and money in court because of Rodeman's bizarre behavior. What ex-mayor would drag her "beloved" town through this public relations / financial nightmare? She was never fit to be the mayor in the first place.

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Kevin Chapman 3 years, 5 months ago

Cargo is a shady character to say the least. Always has been always will be. Should have been charged with a DUI just like any of the rest of us would be.

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jturbo 3 years, 5 months ago

What a Crock this is on the part of the Town of Oak Creek. Cargo has been nothing but trouble for many years. If she had obeyed the laws (Past and Present) she would not have an arrest record like she does and now she has CASH courtesy of the Town of Oak Creek. I am sorry to see this settlement. This will encourage her to continue this behavior :(

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JJ Southard 3 years, 5 months ago

In the pic, does her shirt say "Dazed and Confused"? .....it should say "Tazed and Got Paid"

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mmjPatient22 3 years, 5 months ago

JJ-

I zoomed in on the picture and I'm pretty sure it actually says "Tazed and Confused." Are the effects of being tazed really that long-lasting?

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 5 months ago

They tried to charge her with everything they could. But she kept her license at the DMV hearing because that hearing officer (retired judge) decided there was not probable cause for Foster to forcibly enter her house. Then the DA dropped charges.

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JJ Southard 3 years, 5 months ago

What will the website contain??? A 30min South Park episode about (sm)Oak Creek?

Marys should buy that one. smoakcreek.com....

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mjsinger 3 years, 5 months ago

CO NATIVE: Perhaps you are unaware of that which you speak. Cargo has done more for the betterment of that community that any other single human probably has throughout her time there. Not only did she secure millions in grants to improve our town (i.e. saving the old town hall, putting a roof over the ice rink, attaining a state of the art water treatment plant, and others...) She has also twice now remedied by herself situations that were devastating to the town involving corrupt officials (Mind you she is not even close to alone in her allegations of abuse and police brutality). She also has held over 20 benefits for members of that community, be they folks whose house burnt down, or folks who were paralyzed or near death from some other tragic event. God forbid you may need help someday, she will probably be the one to give you her time, love, and money to help you as well. As for the money the town had to pay, we should all be grateful for her struggle, maybe now the town will thoroughly investigate any prospective law enforcemant..

jturbo: She has NO cash courtesy of Oak Creek, her attorneys have every drop of the awarded money...she nearly lost her home, and her mind fighting this battle and she did it for the better good. I wouldn't expect folks like you to understand the depths of this sort of large scale societal change that she has fought for, but if you did understand the interconnectedness of you and everyone else you would be truly grateful that she had the gumption to fight to get this officer off the street and to prevent future mishirings by the town...

mmjpatient22: I suggest you study the effects of multiple tasings...people have died and others have been permanently physically damaged. Psychologically, the effects can be incredibly long lasting (after all she was attacked in the sanctity of her own home by an armed intruder that was using the pretense of being a public official hired to protect and serve) A little intelligent observation regarding information that is out there on tasing will more than give you the answer to that question.

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mmjPatient22 3 years, 5 months ago

mjsinger-

Go ahead and take the next exit off of your war path. I think you may have gotten turned around a bit.

Not only am I a non-combative on this comment board but I happen to be in almost complete agreement with you. Tasing people sucks. I've worked with enough electricity to know better than to believe that tasing someone is a less-than-lethal method of subduing someone that needs some subduing. Sure, lots of people survive it, but there's plenty that don't. And there's plenty of better ways out there to subdue someone without lighting 'em up like a Christmas tree. As for intelligent observation, maybe you read my original comment in a different light than I originally intended it be cast. My intent was to point out how easy it is for municipalities to shrug off their responsibility to justice by just settling a case like this for a measly $25,000. It must be nice to able to get off the hook that cheaply.

Kiss&make-up?

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mmjPatient22 3 years, 5 months ago

And maybe you failed to intelligently observe the part where they laid out that,

"This offer is less than an offer made early in the case for $25,000 plus paying for Ms. Rodeman’s costs and reasonable attorney fees,” Colorado Springs lawyer Gordon L. Vaughan said in an email Friday.

Maybe the attorneys don't have every drop of the awarded money?

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mjsinger 3 years, 5 months ago

mmjpatient22 I appologize if I incorrectly read your statement. I have heard so many folks think electricity pulsating through the human body multiple times is no big deal, I thought you were one of these misinformed people...

And I can assure you that the attorneys do have every drop of the money from this settlement- it's unfortunate that she did not take the original offer...but I know that from the beginning money was never the objective, she merely wanted to ensure that this corrupt official would not be able to terrorize again.

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