Former La Paz County Public Defender Kathy Field has filed a notice of claim with her former employer demanding $950,000 for wrongful termination.
Field was fired on May 1st, 2017 in a 2-1 decision by the Board of Supervisors. No reason was given publicly for her termination, which Field is now challenging in documents sent to the County by two Prescott-based attorneys representing her. Parker Live obtained the documents Wednesday after making a public records request.
In the documents, Field is described as a “whistleblower” who was attempting to draw the administration’s attention to financial “anomalies” and “discrepancies”. Field says she was fired because “certain County officials were not pleased with [her] reporting” of these issues. The documents also make the point that she was replaced with a younger male, citing age and sex discrimination, and the “convenient” fact that the termination happened during a time when the County was laying off employees in response to budget shortfalls.
Field’s claim cites her issues with a County fund that was supposed to be set aside for indigent defense. During her tenure as Public Defender she had raised questions about how the fund was being used, who was in control of the money and whether it was being put to use for the purposes it was intended. She said the money – an account known as Fund 363 – was being “misappropriated” and that her attempts to address the issue were not welcomed.
“Over a period of years, Ms. Field took extraordinary measures to safeguard the public’s moneys including Fund 363 (the indigent defense fund), in connection with the Public Defender’s Office,” the claim by her lawyers says. “Though her moral obligation compelled her to do so, she also came forward with this information knowing that she was protected by the Employee Handbook and by Arizona Revised Statutes from being the victim of retaliatory conduct. […] Regardless, Ms. Field was fired.”
In addition, the claim talks at length about the process of hiring outside counsel to represent La Paz County defendants, and Field’s assertion that those decisions should have been going through her office. According to her, the Court did not follow procedure in failing to have the cases sent to her, which she says cost the County more money. Her attempts to address this issue were not met with open minds, the document suggests, with a failure to fix the issues continuing even after a consultant was brought in to assess the procedures.
Field was fired on May 1st, 2017, reported on that day HERE in Parker Live. The Board of Supervisors left the public boardroom to hold a private Executive Session while the public waited. Field was included in the session, which was held to discuss “the continued employment, assignment, appointment, promotion, demotion, dismissal, salary, discipline or resignation of the position of the La Paz County Public Defender.” Field says she recalls “in detail” what was discussed during the Executive Session, but did not want her attorneys to disclose it in the document out of “an abundance of caution.”
“No reason was given by the Board of Supervisors for Ms. Field’s involuntary termination and replacement with a much younger male attorney,” her claim reads.
It is widely accepted that most appointments of the County Board of Supervisors are ‘at-will’, meaning that no justification is needed to fire the appointed employee for any reason. But Field’s claim says that she was not, in fact, an at-will employee, and that the County had violated three exceptions to the at-will doctrine.
“Statutory authority, coupled with the express language of the Employee Handbook, makes it crystal clear that Ms. Field was not an at-will employee of La Paz County,” the document says.
Citing retaliation by County officials in response to her whistleblowing, Field’s attorneys say “employees should not have to choose between their jobs and the demands of important public policy interests.” It continues to say that the County “retaliated against Ms. Field by firing her for exposing and working diligently to rectify significant financial problems.”
Field’s salary at the time she was fired was almost $104,000. Citing that she expected to work at least 4 more years in the role, and that she had been denied the full retirement she would have been eligible for a mere number of months later, the claim cites $950,000 as the amount she would now be willing to settle for.
Under state statute, if the County does not resolve the claim with Field before December 17th, it will be deemed to have been denied and the case will move forward in Superior Court.
La Paz County’s insurance pool typically handles such legal matters on behalf of the County, with a decision by the Board of Supervisors needed to approve any settlements.
Field’s husband, Dan Field, is also an attorney and the former La Paz County Administrator. His employment in that role was terminated for no cause last December.
To view the notice of claim in full, it is attached HERE (PDF).
LMAO! Literally–my ass is on the floor. You just floored my ass.
La Paz County…****ing people over left and right, now it comes to bite em in the ass.
These two just can not leave Parker alone. In my opinion they have done more damage then good.
We all knew it was coming. Surprised it took this long
HAHAHA She is ######! It’s about time she was fired!
Guys we don’t allow insults here. Please find a way to say it – even if it’s critical – without resorting to name-calling or insults.
The interesting thing here is that she’s claiming Fund 363 was “misappropriated.” Well, let’s think about this: Who was in charge of the county funds? Dan Field. Ummm… okay. Maybe she should sue him.
We all knew this was coming. Now will see the outcome.
Sooooo, she is suing based on a claim of “whistle blowing” of mismanagement of funds by the county in which her husband managed….
Aaron Since I am just a weekender in Parker and do not keep up with the local politics. Just for my education what are you referring to about La Paz County?
Generally if it doesnt benefit the board, line their pockets, or advance the people that are screwing their coworkers, most people get fucked over by the new board.
Well well well, these two will never leave our county alone. Her husband was the one that she should be looking at. The Field’s have run the county into the ground and should just STFU.
They just sold their house and moved to Prescott area, how much money do these two need? Get a job Kathy oh wait, no one will hire you for any type of Gov’t job. Go flip burgers.
It’s bad enough your husband is part of the reason employees won’t have raises for many years. Now you really want to screw over the very county you ruined even more.
It will be interesting
Good for her, good luck to her too!
Way to go Kathy and dan! Anybody who thinks other wise can “STFU”
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha , now in Spanish.
Ja ja ja ja ja ja ja ja ja ja ja ja ja ja ja ja ja ja ja ja ja ja ja ja ja ja ja ja ja !!
Lawsuit, Hmmmmmmm La Paz County should be suing them!
Gary Zak 2020
Wait a minute, Cliff and Gene Fisher get the majority of the blame here and the rest of it goes to the f***ing asshole attorneys who didn’t refuse to take the case forward.
Well it will come back to the community, well the casino, I’m sure.
Which benefits CRIT, not La Paz. lol
I’m good with that, I have a tribal child. Just saying, that $950,000 would be spent within the community, based on what I’ve seen.
If she did her job well it would be a different story. But won’t go there right now! So I say she’s crazy
Sell your house for 3 hundred grand to waste on an attorney to suck blood from a turnip. Now that makes sense.
Who do you think was giving then advise?
Did they screw you over Aaron ?
Is her husband named in this law suite? Wow!!!!!
“The documents also make the point that she was replaced with a younger male, citing age and sex discrimination” He was the best qualified for the position and for that you’re crying sex discrimination? “Field’s salary at the time she was fired was almost $104,000. Citing that she expected to work at least 4 more years in the role, and that she had been denied the full retirement she would have been eligible for a mere number of months later, the claim cites $950,000 as the amount she would now be willing to settle for.” So just because one expects to work up to a certain # of years if they get fired they can sue for what they would of made during the # of years they expected to work? Where does she come up with this crap? Kathy they fired you for good reason and Dan as well, what, is he filing suit next?
I thought the same thing when I read this. I honestly thought his lawsuit would be filed first.
Prior to being hired/appointed as the public defender, while the county was under the “management” of her husband, and “earning” $104K salary, she was working at Walmart! Kind of a big jump there, don’t you think? Apparently at the time there was nobody more qualified to work as the public defender than a Walmart associate? That always smelled iffy to me…
She could go work at Walmart. She did for a while. I don’t know her husband but she is a “special” one.
Didn’t she sue Parker a long time a ago ? Which I am surprise she even got her job back. Or she can work at Walmart or Casino again
Oh please, please tell me this is only a “Joke”. My son works for the park as one of the 4 full timers there and the part timers have been cut back. Nevermind, the “joke” is on us.
Aaron Bond, benefits are not only CRIT so rethink that thought.
they don’t live in Parker anymore, sold their house for about 3 hundred grand and moved to Prescott. Wonder if the house still had a loan to pay off if so she can’t have much left. I’m sure the casino in Prescott is looking . lol
So she’s admitting there have been years of misappropriations in the county, under her husband’s watch. Nice. All the years of alleged “good ol’ boys” favors, alleged misappropriations of funds, alleged hiring of friends, alleged overall bad business…much of it under her husband’s watch as County Administrator. Way to go, Fields!
While this isn’t surprising, it’s ridiculous and I hope the judge throws out the case. She should be ashamed of herself, filing a case just to stick it to the county once more, when there are people out there who truly have legitimate cases. These frivolous cases are what make filing legitimate ones harder.
Actually I think she they should retire, and keep out of trouble.
Hope the town of Parker says No
AZ is a right to work State, also yes Randy Travis you comment is correct her husband was in office at the time
You know it Melinda Barnett!!
Would Somebody pick up Randy’s Ass. Please.
LaPaz is broke. There isn’t 900gs for her to get. Wtf!!
I think otherwise, now what ?
This lady needs Mental help.
Like all claims filed against the county, this one will be handled by the insurance trust. They will make a recommendation (probably some sort of settlement), and the insurance company will likely settle the claim and pay it. The same thing happened with the Yakima case, except an egotistical jack wagon who was running the board of supervisors ignored the insurance trust’s recommendation and decided instead to take the case to court, where the county got its ass kicked and was saddled with the $20 million judgement. In this case, less assholish heads will likely prevail and leave it to the insurance company to handle the case.
Don’t forget about the $50k deductible that the county will have to pay! Insurance gonna drop La Paz at some point!
This law suit is never going to pay out, Kathy you’re never going to suck blood out of a turnip. You just sold your house here in Parker for over 300 Grand. Get a job and stop trying to make a living by sucking off of others.