Lake Elmo approves settlement with former administrator

The Lake Elmo City Council agreed to a settlement with former city administrator Dean Zuleger May 16.

According to the motion made by the city council, a settlement of the Zuleger v. Lake Elmo lawsuit was negotiated during mediation May 9, and included a contribution of $30,000 by the city with no admission of liability. The council authorized current city administrator Kristina Handt to execute the final settlement documents, which were not immediately available. Any information on additional financial contributions or terms of the settlement were not immediately available.

The city council met in closed session with attorneys representing the city, as well as representatives of the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust, prior to the council’s action on the settlement.

Zuleger had filed the civil lawsuit July 29, 2016, in Washington County District Court against the city of Lake Elmo and former city council member Steve DeLapp. The suit alleged defamation and violations of his privacy rights under the Minnesota Data Practices Act. On March 2, the case against DeLapp was dismissed and the lawsuit continued with the city of Lake Elmo as the sole defendant.

Zuleger, who was employed by the city from January 2012 to July 2015, alleged in the civil complaint that his tenure with the city of Lake Elmo was complicated by significant dysfunction within the city and cited numerous news articles describing dysfunction, conflict and hostility within city hall and from elected officials.

Zuleger’s attorney, David Asp, outlined several events related to Zuleger’s departure from Lake Elmo in July 2015 that allegedly damaged Zuleger’s ability to find new employment in municipal government administration. Asp stated in the civil complaint that Zuleger incurred a significant loss of income and opportunity and experienced emotional distress that has required medical and psychological treatment.

Asp declined to comment on the settlement.