JANESVILLE — A former Janesville police officer who claimed she was illegally removed from her job in 2009 has received a $400,000 lawsuit settlement.
Betty Price and the city of Janesville reached an agreement calling for her to receive $400,000 from the city’s insurer, League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust, and $5,000 from the city as reimbursement for personal property.
The city also was required to issue a public statement, which it has through League attorney Jana O’Leary Sullivan.
In the prepared statement, the city did not admit liability and stated it settled the matter to avoid the uncertainty and expense of litigation.
The city eliminated Price’s position after cutting $80,000 from the police budget.
The city also stated it never made any claim that Price had any disciplinary issues, and that she was “an excellent and devoted officer.”
“I hold her in the highest regard,” Police Chief Dave Ulmen said in the statement, “and I recommend Officer Price to any law enforcement agency, without reservation.”
The city’s statement noted the lawsuit also claimed that Janesville’s former mayor, Al Grams, defamed her, though the statement didn’t detail that claim.
“The discrimination claim was the main crux of the settlement,” Sullivan said.
Recordings from a 2009 City Council meeting revealed that Grams, in speaking about the police budget, said, “I’d sure like to cut Betty...she’s a pain in the ass.”
City Administrator Clinton Rogers said after the meeting that he had momentarily left the room to retrieve some documents when Grams made the comments, and had he been present he would have admonished Grams.
Grams subsequently told The Free Press that he stood by his words, saying they were spurred by townspeople’s complaints about the 52-year-old officer’s allegedly over-officious manner in which she dealt with the public.
Price countered that Grams was a rumormonger and a bully.
“He has a vendetta, and why I don’t know,” Price said in 2009. “I have done nothing wrong.”
Price is no longer working in law enforcement and no longer lives in the area. She and her lawyer could not be reached for comment.