Sheriff responds to lawsuit settlement
HAMILTON — The Butler County sheriff said he settled a lawsuit with an arrested undocumented immigrant worker for $100,000 because the other side didn’t want to go to trial, an explanation disputed by the plaintiff’s attorney.
“Basically the other side didn’t want to go to trial, they didn’t want to take a chance on losing,” Jones said Wednesday, April 21.
Luis Rodriguez, 44, formerly of Lebanon, filed the lawsuit claiming his constitutional rights were violated in 2007 when he and others were rounded up at a Port Union Road construction site by Butler County deputies and a former immigration specialist hired by Jones.
Jones added that there would have been serious ramifications to law enforcement if the county lost at trial.
“Both sides came to an agreement,” he said. “We believe we would have won if we had gone to trial.”
However, Rodriguez’s attorney, Al Gerhardstein, said Tuesday he was prepared to go forward with the case.
“I certainly was prepared to go to trial,” he said. But he said there had been ongoing negotiations on a settlement for weeks.
Gerhardstein argued that Jones did not have power to enforce the federal civil immigration law. The case was pending on motions for summary judgment and only weeks away from trial when the county agreed to pay $100,000 in settlement of the claims, Gerhardstein said.
Gerhardstein said his client, who had lived in Butler County for 11 years, was arrested and charged with providing a false identification and deported to Mexico, though he was later acquitted of the charge.
Rodriguez, who admitted to being in the country illegally and voluntarily departed the country in August 2008 to live in Mexico, will never be allowed back in the United States, Jones said.
Jones’ attorneys had argued investigators did not violate the law when they conducted a work site visit Jan. 2, 2007, according to court documents. They stated it is clearly established that local law enforcement may conduct activities relating to the enforcement of federal law.
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