A claim has been settled against the City of Winfield that was filed last year by a man who alleged his constitutional rights were violated during a police stop.
The agreement, however, is not being made public by either the city or its insurance company that handled the claim.
The city did provide the CourierTraveler with a copy of an invoice from Midwest Public Risk, its liability insurance provider, after an open records request. The invoice shows MPR paid out a total of $34,236.56 to claimant Jeremy “Rudy” Samuel, with the city responsible for a $10,000 deductible.
The invoice is dated Jan. 11, 2019, with payment of the deductible authorized by the city on March 20, 2019. The description of loss on the invoice “alleges officer performed unconstitutional search of a vehicle.”
The claim was filed June 6, 2018, by a Wichita lawyer on Samuel’s behalf. It alleges that Samuel’s constitutional rights were violated during a May 13, 2018, traffic stop conducted by Winfield police.
The stop, which was recorded on Samuel’s cell phone and police car dash cam, triggered allegations of racial profiling and harassment. The fallout led to the firing of Sean Skov, the lead police officer involved and the resignation of the former Winfield city manager. Samuel requested $1 million in compensation from the city.
The claim was the first step in a legal process that, if not resolved in the initial stages, could have led to Samuel suing the city. The claim was turned over to Midwest Public Risk, which negotiated with Samuel’s lawyer to reach a settlement.
Max Kautsch, legal consultant for the Kansas Press Association, says that settlement agreements that include amounts paid by public agencies to end legal disputes are a public record, as long as the agency has a copy of it.
But Winfield City Clerk Brenda Peters said Wednesday that the city has no access to the actual settlement records held by the insurance company.
“We would assume that part of this amount was paid to the attorney that handled the case, but have no knowledge of the actual amount paid to Samuel,” Peters said in an email.
An MRP representative confirmed that the claim was settled but declined to provide details.
“The claimant requested confidentiality, and we are respecting that request,” Jason McMahon, risk management advisor for the company, stated in an email.
A statement issued jointly by a MPR representative and Winfield City Attorney Bill Muret added, “we cannot discuss publicly litigated matters. This is a consistent approach to all litigation involving the city.”
Contacted Wednesday, Muret said the city doesn’t have a copy of the settlement because it was between the insurance company and Samuel, and “outside of the city’s sphere.”
A phone message left for Samuel’s attorney Wednesday was not returned by deadline.