State will pay 26K to settle lawsuit against AG Nixon

By John O'Brien | May 28, 2008


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Legal Newsline) - After more than three years of litigation, a quadriplegic attorney who claims Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon would not hire her because of her disability appears to have settled her case.

Nixon and Marla Grothoff are asking a federal judge to approve the settlement they have agreed upon. It calls for the State paying $26,000 to settle the allegations she brought against Nixon in 2004.

Grothoff, who has limited use of her hands, worked from 1998-2003 as legal counsel for the Department of Social Services, Division of Child Support Enforcement. When the DSS entered into an agreement with Nixon's office allowing DSS attorneys to apply for positions as assistant attorneys general, she was not offered a job.

"For more than 15 years, the (DSS) had made reasonable accommodation for Plaintiff's employment, as she practiced law for the benefit of the State of Missouri, while living life as a quadriplegic," her complaint says.

"In effectively discharging Plaintiff and refusing to further employ her, Defendant failed to make reasonable employment accommodations for Plaintiff's disability and Defendant discriminated against Plaintiff..."

The state Legislature had transferred duties previously performed by Grothoff's division of the DSS to the Attorney General's office in 2003.

Scott Holste, a Nixon spokesperson, said Grothoff was not recommended by the DSS for transfer to Nixon's office.

"Attorney General Nixon has been a leader for many years in fighting for rights of disabled, both in bringing lawsuits and filing amicus briefs in various courts in support of the rights of disabled," Holste added.

The $26,000 will technically be paid over a period of 52 months to allow Grothoff to preserve retirement benefits.

"Ms. Grothoff agrees that she will not represent or claim that she was ever employed by the AGO or as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Missouri, nor will she at any time in the future seek or accept any manner of employment of any type or variety with the (DSS) or the AGO," the proposed settlement says.

The proposed settlement does not provide for any payment by the State to Grothoff for attorneys fees. Nixon, a Democratic candidate for Governor, was dismissed as a defendant in his personal capacity in 2005.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien via e-mail at john@legalnewsline.com.

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