City of Farmington will pay $38,000 to settle dispute with officer
After 28 years on the Farmington Police Department, sergeant Kevin Mincke has taken his retirement. But not without a fight.
Council members debated the terms of the settlement agreement in closed session for more than an hour on Monday. The agreement passed on a 3-2 vote, with council members Doug Bonar and Christy Jo Fogarty, whose husband is a police officer, casting the dissenting votes.
It was a year ago this week that Farmington police received a call that set the wheels of Mincke’s eventual lawsuit in motion. On Aug. 6, 2013, FPD received a report of a man in Rambling River Park who was threatening to kill himself and anyone who tried to stop him. Mincke was the sergeant on duty when the call came in, and was the first to respond.
The call ultimately led to officers chasing the man’s vehicle through downtown Farmington and into Empire Township, where officers forced the fleeing vehicle off the road. Three squads were damaged in the event.
Two months later, Mincke was written up for his role in the stop. In January, he told the Independent Town Pages he had hired attorney John Fabian of the firm Fabian, May & Anderson to represent him.
As part of the 2014 budget process, one police position had been cut by the city council. Mincke alleged Lindquist had written him up in hopes Mincke would quit, and the police department would not have to lay off the officer with the least seniority. In January, he said he offered to take early retirement, but three attempts were turned down.
Mincke was demoted from sergeant on days to patrol officer on nights on Jan. 6. By the end of January, Fabian had filed two grievances on Mincke’s behalf against the city.
Mincke filed claims of age discrimination and tortious interference with employment against Lindquist and the city of Farmington. The matter had been in mediation for the past several months.
Council members reconvened Monday’s regular meeting after discussing the settlement agreement in closed session for an hour and 10 minutes. League of Minnesota Cities attorney Jana O’Leary Sullivan, representing the city of Farmington and Lindquist, recommended council members approve the settlement agreement.
The material terms of the agreement, O’Leary Sullivan said, hold that the city of Farmington and Lindquist do not admit any wrong doing or liability. The agreement also reinstated Mincke as a sergeant, effectively rescinding his demotion.
In return, he agreed to retire from the city effective Tuesday.
The League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust will pay Mincke a lump sum of $30,000 on behalf of the city. In addition, O’Leary Sullivan said, the city will pay him $8,128, “which Officer Mincke alleges, but we do not say one way or the other, is for the difference in pay between the sergeant and the officer position.”
Finally, the city agrees to pay out all of Mincke’s accrued sick and vacation time.
In exchange, Mincke must agree to waive all claims against the city of Farmington and Lindquist.
Council member Jason Bartholomay made the motion to accept the agreement. It was seconded by Larson.
Council members had little to say about the agreement.
“This becomes a little hard for me to digest and take in,” Fogarty said. “I think that everyone sitting up at this table knows that the settlement is what’s in the best interest of the city and the taxpayers that we present, but it’s personally very tough for me to stomach. It will be a very challenging vote for me to take tonight.”
Larson, Bartholomay and Terry Donnelly supported the agreement.
In other action Monday, council members approved the promotion of Farmington police officer Matt Hendrickson to sergeant. Hendrickson’s appointment was effective Tuesday.