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Arundel government must pay $100,000 attorney fees to former Leopold employee

Anne Arundel County government must pay more than $100,000 in attorneys' fees to a former county employee who sued, claiming she was wrongfully fired by former County Executive John R. Leopold..

U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Blake on Wednesday awarded just over $103,000 in legal fees as well as court costs to Karla Hamner, a former government spokeswoman. Hamner previously accepted a settlement offer from the county of $110,000 plus attorneys' fees. In total, she'll get about $214,000.

County Attorney David Plymyer said he was pleased the judge awarded less in attorneys' fees than Hamner requested. She had sought $175,000.

Hamner sued Leopold and the county in Anne Arundel Circuit Court in 2010, claiming Leopold transferred her and then fired her after she complained that he berated her regarding her hair, and for his overall treatment of women. The case was moved to federal court, where part of it was thrown out and a judge ruled Leopold could not be held personally liable.

Leopold and the county have denied any wrongdoing.

A lawsuit against the county from another Leopold employee, former constituent services specialist Joan Harris, is still pending in federal court. Leopold also was ruled not liable in that case. Harris claimed she was fired for helping Hamner with her lawsuit.

Both Harris and Hamner are represented by Lutherville attorney John M. Singleton, who said Wednesday he was happy with the judge's award.

Leopold was convicted of criminal misconduct in office in 2013 for forcing employees to carry out personal tasks such as handling campaign signs and emptying his catheter bag. He resigned from office shortly after he was convicted. His conviction was upheld on appeal this year.

pwood@baltsun.com

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