Former Paonia clerk takes town, manager to court

By Tamie Meck

Former Paonia town clerk Barbara Peterson has filed a civil rights lawsuit in Colorado District Court against the Town of Paonia and town manager Jane Berry. The suit was in U.S. District Court for the Colorado District. Peterson seeks compensatory damages of $100,000 for humiliation, $250,000 for anxiety, depression and other physical and mental injuries, and $350,000 for loss of reputation, according to a court document filed Oct. 30 with the U.S. District Court in Denver.

The suit stems from Peterson's termination last March. Peterson, who was hired as town clerk in May 2003, claims she was wrongfully terminated in violation of civil rights guaranteed under the First and 14th Amendments.

Marni Nathan Kloster, an attorney with Nathan Dumm & Mayer, P.C., in Denver, will act as attorney for the town and Berry. Kloster was appointed special council to the case by the Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency (CIRSA), a Denver-based organization providing pool insurance coverage and risk management services to state public entities.

Peterson, who declined to comment on the suit, is being represented by John W. McKendree, a Denver-based employment law and criminal defense attorney specializing in wrongful termination.

Town attorney David Marek and Berry also declined to comment on the case, citing pending litigation.