Rolling Meadows mayor to attend settlement talks over fired city manager's lawsuit
Rolling Meadows Mayor Joe Gallo and ex-City Manager Barry Krumstok are expected to be present next week when their lawyers hold settlement discussions over Krumstok's employment retaliation lawsuit against the mayor and city, attorneys for both said Wednesday.
It's likely the attorneys will forgo formal opening statements at the mediation, scheduled to be held virtually at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 22, and just get down to business.
"Everyone knows the facts, even though we didn't engage in litigation yet," John O'Reilly, a municipal and employment liability attorney retained by Rolling Meadows, said during a status hearing in the case Wednesday morning. "I don't think it's a big mystery of what's at issue. I don't know that with some of the more dramatic elements of this case, that (opening statements) benefits us."
Keith Hunt, Krumstok's attorney, agreed. "There's no sense inflaming the other side with an impassioned argument from counsel and then asking people to be reasonable and come to the middle," he said.
With both Gallo and Krumstok in the virtual room, said Judge Jeffrey T. Gilbert, "why rub salt in any wounds?"
Krumstok filed suit against the city and Gallo on July 12 -- a day before the council voted 5-2 to terminate Krumstok, and days after Gallo placed him on administrative leave and asked him to resign. The longtime city manager alleges employment retaliation and discrimination, arguing that his firing stemmed from a personal vendetta dating back to 2019. Gallo has denied the accusations, calling them "meritless."
Both lawyers told the judge Wednesday they believe a settlement is realistic.
"I believe that it is, recognizing that both sides are going to have to make some substantial movement to be reasonable," Hunt said. "But we certainly think it's worth the parties' time, as well as the court's, to proceed. I think both sides agree that this is a matter that is better resolved amicably than through a long litigation process."
Besides Gallo, Krumstok and the two attorneys on the case, the mediation is expected to include City Attorney Melissa Wolf and a representative of the Intergovernmental Risk Management Agency, which is the city's liability insurance pool.
"I tell both parties that I want to make both sides unhappy, but not so unhappy that they want to proceed with the case and discovery and trial," the judge said. "Usually that requires both sides to get to their vomit point, which means if they had to move anymore they would vomit. And so the point right before then, the settlement has to happen."
Meanwhile, the search for Krumstok's replacement continues. Alderman Lara Sanoica, a member of the three-person city manager hiring committee, reported at a city council meeting Tuesday night that the panel has narrowed its pool of qualified applicants to five. The panel plans to do preliminary screenings over the next two weeks, before moving applications forward to the full city council, Sanoica said.
The council is expected to rank those five before a final round of interviews of the top three finalists, she said.
The committee, which also includes Gallo and Alderman Jon Bisesi, has met three times in closed session since being formed last month. The next meeting is set for 5:15 p.m. Friday.