When James Telb was sheriff of Lucas County, he faced federal charges relating to an inmate’s death in the county jail. He was acquitted in December 2010, but claims the process left him saddled with $200,000 in legal fees.
Now he is suing the county to recover the money.
In pretrial motions, Court of Common Pleas Judge Gene Zmuda agreed with Telb that the Lucas County prosecutor should be disqualified from defending the case due to a conflict of interest. That forced the county to hire an outside attorney—but has allocated only $25,000 to defend itself against Telb’s lawsuit.
Note: Most employers will cover legal expenses for executives, managers and employees who must defend against charges or lawsuits stemming from actions that took place within the scope of their employment. Had the sheriff been convicted, his actions would have been criminal and thus outside his employment duties. Since he was acquitted, the case is not so clear.
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