times file photo

Muscatine City Administrator Gregg Mandsager in the council chambers.

John Schultz, Quad-City Times

MUSCATINE — Muscatine City Administrator Gregg Mandsager filed a lawsuit Friday against Mayor Diana Broderson for defamation during her first term and removal from office.

Mandsager accuses Broderson of five charges in the petition: defamation, infliction of emotional distress, intentional interference with prospective business advantage, intentional interference with contract and respondeat superior or municipality liability.

He is requesting Broderson provide compensation for "injuries" and cost of legal action.

Broderson, who won re-election this past Tuesday, was removed from office by a unanimous city council vote in May. Last month, a Muscatine County District Court judge ruled the removal of Broderson was vacated because council members violated her right to due process and had an interest in her impeachment.

The council claimed Broderson, during her first term, overstepped her authority as mayor and made accusations against council members and the city administrator.

After Broderson's win in court, Mandsager issued a statement saying he intended to sue the mayor for defamation, and following her election win last week, he officially filed the lawsuit Friday, which includes the mayor and the city of Muscatine, according to court documents.

In an interview Oct. 26, Mandsager said he is including the city in the lawsuit because it is the "primary insurance holder." In the petition, Mandsager requested a jury trial.

He also told the Muscatine Journal he would prefer not to file the lawsuit, and was hoping to reach an agreement with Broderson. He requested Broderson issue an apology and retract statements she has said about their first meeting, in which she claimed Mandsager told her that he runs the town and makes the decisions in the community.

On Tuesday, Broderson said Mandsager never approached her to discuss the potential lawsuit and never directly asked her to issue an apology or retraction. Broderson said she was not aware the city administrator had already filed the lawsuit.

In his petition, Mandsager lists dozens of instances in which Broderson allegedly committed slander or libel, injured the city administrator's reputation or caused damages, such as mental pain and suffering and loss in employment opportunities.

Among the allegations in the petition, Mandsager claims in February 2016, Broderson "asserted ... she is being undermined in her position by the city administrator," that the city administrator subjected her to a hostile work environment and that her position has been undermined due to gender discrimination.

In addition, at a Coffee with the Mayor session in May 2016, Mandsager claims Broderson made "numerous false ... and slanderous statements," including that the city administrator was the reason city employees were afraid for the jobs and Mandsager was the "root cause of her problems."

While Mandsager had not returned a call for comment as of Tuesday afternoon, Broderson said she hopes to move past the contention and focus on starting a new term as mayor.

"We're just really hoping to move on in a positive way for the community," Broderson said.

This story will be updated as more information is provided.

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