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Commissioners approve settlement in Callahan lawsuit

Mar. 20—ANDERSON — The Madison County Board of Commissioners has settled a federal lawsuit brought by Katherine Callahan, the former chief deputy Madison County coroner.

Callahan, through the Indianapolis law firm of Wilson Melton, filed the lawsuit against then-Madison County Coroner Dr. Troy Abbott and Madison County last year in a dispute centered on unpaid overtime and constitutional rights claims.

The federal court removed the Madison County commissioners from the lawsuit and ordered Abbott to hire legal counsel, which he failed to do.

The commissioners on Tuesday approved the settlement in the amount of $32,500.

"The Madison County Coroner's office and the Madison County Coroner's insurance company have determined it is in their mutual interest to resolve the disputes," the settlement agreement reads.

Callahan will receive a payment of $16,250 and her attorney will also receive $16,250.

She declined a request for comment Tuesday after signing a non-disclosure agreement.

The Commissioners also approved a resolution authorizing legal action against Abbott.

The resolution is seeking to have the county reimbursed in the amount of $30,000 which was the surety bond.

It also authorizes Tom Ecker, county administrator, to hire an attorney to try and collect the bond from Abbott.

"The Board of Commissioners has received substantial information that former county coroner Dr. Troy Abbott engaged in acts of nonfeasance and malfeasance by wholly failing to defend the Madison County Coroner's office in federal court, ignoring court mandated deadlines, refusing to communicate with his attorney and failing to properly supervise the time entries of his deputies," the resolution reads.

It states Abbott's failure to abide by the federal judge has cost the county additional costs for attorney fees and court ordered sanctions and the settlement payment.

The federal lawsuit stated Callahan was hired by Abbott as a fourth deputy coroner on Jan. 1, 2021, the first day he took office.

At the time Abbott worked as a physician in the medical office owned by Callahan in Lapel.

Abbott left the employment in November and accepted a position with IU Health in Daleville starting later this year.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.