Lawsuit against Floyd County: Expert calculates former county employee’s losses

WAVERLY, Iowa — An expert hired by Theresa Farmer’s attorneys calculates her past and future economic losses at slightly more than $400,000.

Sheldon Wishnick, an actuarial consultant from Connecticut, determined the figure based on Farmer’s wages while working for former Floyd County Attorney Jesse Marzen and her benefits package from the county.

Jurors, however, did not hear that figure this morning. Wishnick’s complete report went only to Judge Chris Foy, who said he may consider the information.

Wishnick did later testify in front of the jury. At that point, he only described Farmer’s economic losses from her termination on Nov. 6, 2009, through the ongoing trial in Bremer County. Wishnick put that amount at slightly less than $67,000.

Wishnick conceded making the calculation requires making assumptions. Included among those are estimates of annual raises and a retirement age of 62.

Farmer is suing Floyd County based on sexual harassment, retaliation and discrimination allegedly suffered while working for Marzen.

Warren Dunkel, a former member of the Floyd County board of supervisors, also testified this morning and described the relationship between departments.

“Every elected official has their own office, their own kingdom,” Dunkel said. “The word ‘supervisor’ is almost a misnomer.”

He disputed the idea county supervisors can summarily reduce any elected officials budget during a fiscal year.

“The power to challenge or the power to change?” Dunkel asked Brooke Timmer, an attorney representing Farmer.

“Change,” Timmer said.

“I don’t believe so,” Dunkel added.

Dunkel also testified that he never heard a particular phrase from employees working for Marzen or in conversations about the situation.

“You used the words ‘sexual harassment.’ That word was never, ever used. It was a toxic work environment,” Dunkel told Timmer.

Timmer asked if the county auditor, Gloria Carr, used the phrase.

“Never ever, ever,” Dunkel testified.

Dunkel added the situation in Marzen’s office represented, as he understood it, “a nasty, mean environment, but not sexual.”