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Braam gets $150,000 in lawsuit settlement

Former Pequot Lakes police chief Jerry Braam and the city of Pequot Lakes agreed to a $150,000 settlement of the lawsuit Braam filed against the city and mayor in regard to his termination, the Lake Country Echo reported.

The settlement released the city and its officials of all claims.

The city is insured through the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust, which is paying the lawsuit settlement.

Braam, placed on paid administrative leave on Aug. 16, 2010, after Mayor Nancy Adams said she received a complaint about him, was terminated in September of 2010 in a 4-1 vote of the Pequot Lakes City Council following a 30-minute closed session at which Braam was present. Council member Tom Ryan voted against the firing. The city never gave a reason for the firing and said the police chief was an at-will employee. At the time, Ryan released a statement saying his opposition vote was based on problems with the process led by Mayor Nancy Adams. Ryan said he believed the process was unduly hostile and unorthodox in part with the full council hearing only one side of the complaint that led to Braam being placed on administrative leave.

In September of 2010 City Attorney Paul Sandelin, who responds to requests for information via email, wrote as an at-will employee Braam was discharged without cause and no disciplinary action was taken. At the time Mark Anfinson, attorney for the Minnesota Newspaper Association, said he believed Pequot Lakes city officials were in violation of the Open Meeting Law and data practices by withholding information.

There are other costs associated with the settlement as well, including the city’s $500 deductible with the League of Minnesota Cities. The city paid about $6,500 in city attorney fees.

The Echo reported Braam’s lawsuit claimed “alleged violations of the city’s personnel policy in regard to personal use of city vehicles that preceded his termination were illegal. He claimed Data Practices Act violations, workers’ compensation reprisal and defamation, among other charges.”

The Echo reported Braam confirmed he also settled a suit against city attorney Paul Sandelin and a workers’ compensation claim.

Braam’s attorney, Stephen Cooper of Cooper Law Firm in Minneapolis, told the Echo they were pleased the matters were resolved successfully and Braam now has the opportunity to proceed forward with his career “in a much better spot.”

Braam, Breezy Point, who coaches baseball and works as an investigator for law firms and insurance companies, is an independent contractor as public safety director with Brainerd International Raceway.

“I love being a part of this community. That has not changed,” he told the Echo.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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