Tribune-Courier General Manager
A Marshall County jury has awarded a former North Marshall Water District employee a total of $33,730.40 in lost wages and punitive damages.
The jury ruled in favor of Paula Boling in her case against the water district, finding she was retaliated against and ultimately fired for blowing the whistle on former water district supervisor Brad Anderson for mismanagement of funds.
Boling had been an employee of North Marshall Water for 18 years when she was terminated in 2011 after she went to board members and Kentucky State Police alleging mismanagement and theft of water district funds by Anderson.
In April 2011 Boling was suspended for conduct unbecoming an employee after it was reported she raised her blouse to another employee. She was again suspended in June 2011 and later terminated for what the district called “failure to exercise due care in her duties.”
Wes Sullenger, Boling’s attorney, was able to successfully argue Boling had received only commendable evaluations and the same raises as other employees prior to the reports of incidents involving Anderson.
Former board member Bob Turner testified to a long list of purchases by Anderson during his tenure as supervisor of the district. He told the jury the water district was broke at one point prior to Anderson’s termination due to “overspending on things the district did not need.” He said at one point the district was forced to obtain a line of credit to pay bills.
He told of Anderson’s purchase of a golf cart, an old car which Anderson told him was needed to go pick up the mail, degreaser, waterless hand sanitizer, a storage building and large amounts of weed killer.
As Boling began to report the purchases Turner said former board member Gordon Hargrove, now deceased, was outspoken in his desire to fire her.
“He would beat his fist on the table over and over to make the point and say, ‘She’s got to go,’” said Turner.
The jury’s award was far less than what Boling had sought. In testimony on Wednesday Boling detailed her wage and benefit losses at nearly $60,000 before she was able to find other employment.
The jury ultimately award only $9,700 in lost wages and $25,000 for punitive damages.
After the trial Boling said in a Facebook post, “I didn’t win any big amount but I won the fight. I really only wanted someone to tell me they were wrong for how they treated me.”