Employee suing Trumbull commissioners files new case | News, Sports, Jobs

Dawn Guarino Gedeon, one of several employees of the Trumbull County Commissioners Office to file a lawsuit against Commissioner Niki Frenchko and the office, filed a document Monday listing those “with knowledge” of the dispute.

Those people include herself, “all employees of the commissioners office” and the physician who provides medical services at the Trumbull County Jail, the document says.

The filing, called “initial disclosures,” also lists several other individuals, such as former human resources director Richard Jackson; County Transit Administrator Mike Salamone; and two other women who sued Frenchko and the commissioners, Christine Glenn and Lisa DeNunzio Blair.

Guarino Gedeon’s lawsuit alleges that Frenchko expressed “anti-Italian bias and bigotry” toward her and “other people of Italian descent.” Guarino Gedeon served as the commissioners’ receptionist for about 10 years until Oct. 25, 2021, according to court documents. At that time, she got a job as payroll secretary and receptionist, a position she continued to hold until May.

The lawsuit also names the commissioners’ office as a defendant, alleging that the commissioners are “responsible for the conduct and behavior of Frenchko.”

The case is being overseen by Judge Benita Y. Pearson of the U.S. District Court in Youngstown.

The Guarino Gedeon filing also lists documents that “may be used to support claims” in the lawsuit. These include Guarino Gedeon’s personnel file, “all social media posts regarding the allegations” in Guarino Gedeon’s trial, and documents such as Trumbull County Commissioners meeting minutes.

It also lists news articles, podcasts, broadcasts, grievance documents, human resources complaints, investigation documents relating to the allegations, as well as Guarino Gedeon’s medical and counseling records and file of workers’ compensation.

The filing comes from Guarino Gedeon’s attorney, Dennis Fogarty of Willoughby Hills.

Frenchko responded to Guarino Gedeon’s lawsuit in early March by telling the newspaper that she had never made bigoted statements about Italians and had never made comments to staff about their ethnic heritage.

Comments on the case led the judge to issue a “gag order” in the case, ordering the parties not to discuss the case outside of court.

Meanwhile, the parties to the lawsuit — Guarino Gedeon, Frenchko and Commissioners Frank Fuda and Mauro Cantalamessa, along with their attorneys — met in Youngstown Federal Court on Monday for a case management conference.

Among the topics they discussed was what Guarino Gedeon’s attorney said was a potential violation of the gag order in the case. The court docket did not specify who committed the alleged breach or what it was, but Pearson gave commissioners’ counsel seven days to ‘show cause’ of ‘why the gag order didn’t has not been violated”.

The judge also set September 20 as the deadline for parties to provide “expert reports,” such as expert witness reports. The case has no trial date.

In May, attorneys representing Frenchko and the “Trumbull County Board of Commissioners” filed a response to Guarino Gedeon’s lawsuit, denying that Frenchko made “derisive statements” regarding Italians.

The response admits that Frenchko made comments on social media “to the effect that Trumbull County employees are ‘goons,’ ‘goons,’ and ‘hacks’.”

But the response denied that Frenchko used derisive and derogatory terms when he “referred to Italian-American employees in Trumbull County,” including calling them “fat” and other terms, or saying that some County employees were “like Michael Corleone or Don Corleone from ‘The Godfather movie.

The county filing requested that the lawsuit be dismissed.

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