Adams State trustees claim immunity in ex-president’s lawsuit
DENVER ” Adams State College trustees have asked a federal judge to throw out a wrongful termination lawsuit by former President Richard Wueste, saying they and other defendants are immune because they are government entities or employees.
The Alamosa college placed Wueste on paid leave in June and fired him in October.
In a lawsuit in Denver federal court, Wueste claimed the trustees “shamefully deprived” him of the right to argue against his termination and that the board of trustees willfully breached his employment contract.
In their first motion responding to the lawsuit, trustees said this week Wueste’s claims cannot go forward because they were essentially acting as judges, considering the evidence for and against him, when they decided to fire him.
The filing said previous federal court decisions have concluded that officials using such hearing procedures are immune from lawsuits. The trustees also argued the dispute should be resolved in state court, not federal court.
Defendants in the lawsuit are the nine trustees and individuals and as a board, and the state.
The filing said trustees fired Wueste for failing “to adequately manage the budget and staff” and for “insubordination in signing two contracts.”
Trustees argued they notified Wueste of issues they believed justified his termination and gave him an opportunity to present witnesses and evidence.
Wueste asserts in the suit that financial matters were not his primary responsibility. Instead he was appointed by the board to improve student recruitment and retention, increase external support and raise morale.
He also says the board violated Colorado open meetings law by meeting in closed sessions that excluded him from discussions about his performance and the college’s budget.
Wueste is seeking damages for lost earnings, damage to his reputation and emotional distress, as well as punitive damages.
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