Ex-Aspen cop will seek more than $460,000 from city in trial
August 8, 2011
ASPEN – A woman fired from the Aspen Police Department more than five years ago will try to persuade the jury that she’s owed more than $460,000 in damages at a trial scheduled for next month.
That’s according to court papers entered last week in the case of former Aspen police Officer Melinda Calvano, who’s suing the city of Aspen and its city manager, Steve Barwick, in Pitkin County District Court.
Her suit claims that while under the employ of the city, was subjected to gender bias, sexual harassment and a hostile work environment. Calvano also contends that the city retaliated against her when it fired her July 27, 2006 – one month after she Tasered a homeless woman in the alley behind the Thrift Shop of Aspen. Calvano sued the city a year after her termination.
The city contends that Calvano was treated fairly and it was her unnecessary Tasering of Carol Alexy that resulted in her termination. Calvano maintains that she Tasered Alexy because she was felt threatened by the woman, who was alleged to have been digging through a Thrift Shop trash bin.
It will be up to a jury to decide in a five-day trial that’s slated to start Sept. 2.
According to a proposed trial management order, Calvano’s itemization of damages are as follows.
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• Approximately $40,000 for loss of earnings and decrease in salary
• $17,000 for loss of benefits
• $21,000 for expenses she incurred through the sale of her Aspen employee-housing unit
• $10,066 in tax penalties for retirement withdrawals
• $750 for lost flex-spending accounts
• $1,044 for loss of accrued sick time
• $1,715 for loss of amounts paid for orthodontia for Calvano’s children
• $92,000 for her loss of reputation
• $25,000 for emotional distress
• $244,879 in estimated attorney’s fees and costs
Between both the city and Calvano, nearly 60 people are on the trial’s witness list, including past and current employees of both the Aspen Police Department and the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.
Those potential witnesses include ex-Police Chief Loren Ryerson, current Police Chief Richard Pryor and City Attorney John Worcester.
Calvano currently works as an officer with the Lone Tree Police Department. Her attorney, Marc Colin, was not available for comment Friday.
The city’s lead attorney in the lawsuit is Gary Doehling of Grand Junction.