Topeka Johnson County has been dropped from a lawsuit that claims Phill Kline sexually discriminated against a senior prosecutor while he was the county’s district attorney.
Johnson County Judge Gerald T. Elliott agreed to dismiss the county from the lawsuit this past week after county officials agreed to a $7,500 settlement.
The Kansas City Star reported that the trial had been scheduled for this week but has been postponed. Kline and the state of Kansas are among the remaining defendants.
The suit was filed by Jacqie Spradling, who was a senior Johnson County prosecutor when Kline was appointed district attorney in January 2007, two months after he lost a re-election bid as Kansas attorney general to former Johnson County DA Paul Morrison. Kline fired several prosecutors the day he took office and dismissed Spradling three months later, in April 2007.
Spradling, who had 15 years in the Johnson County office and led its domestic violence unit under Morrison, alleges she was fired in retaliation for her complaints of sex discrimination.
Her lawsuit alleges in part that Kline and his senior deputy district attorney tolerated incompetence by male attorneys and gave female attorneys “unwarranted criticism.”
Kline, however, contends Spradling was fired for such things as insubordination, failure to follow office policy and a negative attitude.
Spradling’s attorney, Joseph Colantuono, said the county agreed to the settlement and to his client’s request that the money go to Safehome, a domestic violence shelter. County officials wouldn’t comment other than to emphasize that the settlement money was going to the shelter.
Kline lost a Republican primary in his bid for a full term as district attorney in August 2008. He is now an assistant visiting professor of law at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., which was founded by late evangelist the Rev. Jerry Falwell.