On July 7, the Carver County Commissioners approved the settlement agreement for Don and Kara Amorosi v. Carver County. The lawsuit alleged that Carver County Sheriff’s and Attorney’s Offices violated data practices by releasing private data related to Archer Amorosi.
The agreement between the two parties was that the county pay the Amorosis $270,000 from their insurer – Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust – as well as their counsel fees of $180,000 for dismissal of the case. The total payout was $450,000, one of the largest payouts in the state for a private data suit. The county will not have to make an “admission of liability or wrongdoing with respect to the County’s release of data related to incident” according to a statement given to the press.
According to the statement, this solution was decided upon because “The County maintains the data that was released is public information, but also recognizes this is a cost effective resolution which brings closure to this matter and avoids the high cost of continuing litigation and the uncertainty of a lengthy jury trial and appeals process.”
“This is a tragic case and we are all deeply saddened by the devastating impact it has had on the Amorosi family, our sheriff’s deputies, our Carver County community and others,” Mark Metz, county attorney, said to the News and Times. “In releasing the facts and issuing the press release, the sheriff and county attorney carefully followed the law and balanced withholding sensitive facts while yet ensuring transparency. Unfortunately, this lawsuit will have a practical chilling effect and the public is likely to see less government transparency to avoid further lawsuits.”
For the Amorosis, this case was not about making money, according to Don Amorosi, father of Archer Amorosi. Instead, the case was more about seeing changes in policy on the part of the county.
“Our objective with the lawsuit was to get them into the view of the public and force change or let a jury at them,” he said. “We wanted to force some policy changes for those that come after us as much as anything. We wanted common sense changes they preferred to write us a check.”
“The Amorosis brought this lawsuit hoping to effect policy changes,” said Paul Dworak, attorney at Newmark Storms Dworak, LLC. “But policy changes cannot be accomplish in a lawsuit with defendants that are unwilling to change.”
As for changes in sheriff policies and procedures, while County Sheriff Jason Kamerud didn’t confirm any due to this case, he stated that the county is always evaluating and looking to improve.
“We moved money within the Sheriff’s Office budget in 2019 to create a crisis therapist position to co-respond to mental health calls with law enforcement and we have imbedded crisis call-takers in our 911 center,” he said. “Both of these operational changes are designed to improve our mental health call response.”