Ex-building chief drops suit | SteamboatToday.com

Ex-building chief drops suit

Susan Cunningham

Former chief building official Mark Marchus’ legal fight with Routt County is over.

Marchus and Routt County recently came to a settlement in which Marchus agreed to dismiss his lawsuit against the county.

A resolution of a separate case, in which the county charged that Marchus had missing duplicates of county personnel files, is expected in the next days. The county is expected to dismiss that case.

Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger said the county is pleased that it can “move on” and start looking for a permanent replacement for Marchus. Moving forward will be positive for the Regional Building Department, he said.

“We’re able to … put this all behind us and move forward,” Monger said Monday.

Marchus said he fought the county until he was “out of money” to spend on litigation.

“I am extremely disappointed with the whole thing,” Marchus said. “The county used their money and power.”

Marchus was terminated from his position in February on allegations that he did not create a good working environment in the department and that he violated county gift policies by taking stones from a contractor. Marchus has denied those allegations.

Marchus’ case said that his termination and the county’s subsequent actions were unconstitutional and went against county policies.

Terms of the settlement require Marchus to give up his right to a grievance hearing about his termination and release the county from claims related to his termination.

The county is not required to pay any money in connection with the settlement and dismissal, County Attorney John Merrill said.

The lawsuit had been sent to the U.S. District Court in Denver, and the discovery process had just begun, said Charles Feldmann, the attorney who represented Marchus.

“We were extremely disappointed that we had to dismiss the case, but really, economically, my client could in no way compete with the county’s unlimited pocketbook in regard to the litigation costs for this case,” Feldmann said.

In regard to the missing personnel files, the county will dismiss that case with the stipulation that Marchus turn over the files if they ever come into his possession, Merrill said.

Marchus said that case has cost him between $15,000 and $20,000 in legal fees.

“The county never should have sued me on that in the first place,” Marchus said.

Marchus said that between both cases, he has spent more than $30,000 in legal fees. Since his termination, he has found other employment, and is a construction manager on a project in Steamboat Springs.

While litigation was ongoing, Carl Dunham has served as interim chief building official. Dunham will stay while the county looks for a permanent replacement.

That search, in which members of the building community and wider community will be involved, could take four to six months, Monger said.

Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said that commissioners are committed to listening to any concerns residents and builders may have about the Regional Building Department.

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