Point Pleasant settles wrongful termination suit for $250K

By Lawrence Smith | Nov 13, 2009

POINT PLEASANT - The city of Point Pleasant has agreed to pay $250,000 to three former employees who alleged they were fired for political reasons.

After a day of trial, the case of Harriett Nibert, et. al. vs. the city of Point Pleasant, et. al. was pre-empted on Aug. 13 when the sides announced they agreed to a settlement. The terms of the settlement were not made public until Wood Circuit Judge Jeffrey B. Reed signed the dismissal order on Sept. 24.

Reed was appointed to hear the case after both Mason Circuit judges David W. Nibert and Thomas C. Evans III recused themselves shortly after the case was filed in March 2008. Nibert is Harriett's husband, the lead plaintiff in the case.

The two other plaintiffs, Heather Moore and Brook Kapp, were added to the suit six months later.

In response to a Freedom of Information Act request regarding the settlement, The West Virginia Record received releases all three women signed in September. The total all three received was $162,979.48.

According to the releases, the city and Marilyn McDaniel - the former mayor who was named as a co-defendant in the suit - through Traveler's Insurance paid each $26,535.83 for emotional distress. Nibert, Moore and Kapp also received $30,015, $45,022.50 and $8,337.50, respectfully, for wage loss.

The remaining $87,020.52 went to the women's attorneys, Walt Auvil, and WVU Law Professor Robert M. Bastress.

According to R.F. Stein Jr., the city's attorney, the only direct expense the city incurred from the suit was a $15,000 deductible paid to Traveler's.

In the suit, all three alleged they were terminated "because they were associated with the previous Democratic administration." Both Kapp and Moore were hired in the Spring of 2005 as water office manager, and finance/human resources director, respectfully, during the Jim Wilson administration while Nibert was first hired in Feb. 2002 as executive secretary to then-Mayor John Roach.

Both Roach and Wilson are Democrats.

In the May 2007 municipal election, McDaniel lead the Republican ticket in a near-sweep of city hall. The only Democrat to keep a seat on the 10-member city council was Dr. William Park who ran unopposed.

The women's suit alleges they received respective termination letters on either June 28 or 29 saying their positions were being eliminated. The letters informed them the action was done with the consent of the new city council, and was to take effect July 1.

However, the new council was not officially sworn-in until June 30, and conducted its first meeting on July 9. In addition to being politically motivated, the suit claimed the terminations were improper since the council failed to meet, and conduct business in accordance with the state Open Meetings Act.

Two weeks before the suit was filed, McDaniel resigned as mayor citing personal reasons.

Mason Circuit Court, case number 08-C-489

More News

The Record Network