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Another $75,000 approved to fight Brekhus lawsuit against City of Reno 


Reno City Council members on Wednesday approved an additional $75,000 to cover the costs for legal services from the Dickinson Wright law firm in a lawsuit brought by Council member Jenny Brekhus against the city. 

In January, the council approved an initial $75,000 to defend against Brekhus. However, according to city attorney Jonathan Shipman, it is now estimated that the city will most likely spend close to $150,000 by the end of the litigation. 

As of Wednesday, the city had already been billed for $60,000 of the initial $75,000.

The lawsuit filed by Brekhus alleges that Norma Santoyo, the city’s director of human resources, acted arbitrarily and abused her discretion by denying Brekhus’ request for a hearing to determine whether Brekhus was the victim of retaliation. 

Brekhus alleges City Manager Doug Thornley retaliated against her for filing a complaint stating he was drinking on the job. Brekhus said that because of her complaint, Thornley barred her from accessing city staff, which limits her ability to perform her duties. 

The city hired an outside firm to investigate her claims of retaliation. According to an investigation report, they found no evidence to substantiate Brekhus’ claims. Also, investigators determined that Brekhus had created a toxic work environment in her treatment of city staff. 

Santoyo denied Brekhus’ request for a hearing based on the assertion that her request was “untimely” because it was not filed within the allowable time frame, which Brekhus denies. 

Dickinson Wright was selected to defend the city after Hall determined it would be a conflict of interest to have the city attorney’s office handle Brekhus’ lawsuit. 

The motion to allocate the additional $75,000 was approved unanimously, with Brekhus recusing herself from the vote. 

Kelsey Penrose
Kelsey Penrose
Kelsey Penrose is a proud Native Nevadan whose work in journalism and publishing can be found throughout the Sierra region. She received degrees in English Literature and Anthropology from Arizona State University and is currently pursuing a Masters in Creative Writing with the University of Nevada, Reno at Lake Tahoe. She is an avid supporter of high desert agriculture and rescue dogs.