Morgantown City Council approves $50,000 settlement in lawsuit filed against city by clerk

MORGANTOWN — A $50,000 settlement was unanimously approved by Morgantown City Council during a special meeting on Thursday, ending Linda Tucker’s federal lawsuit against the city, as well as her 25-year tenure as its municipal clerk.

Tucker filed the suit in March 2017, claiming that her testimony in Morgantown resident George Papandreas’ failed removal action against four members of the previous city council — Bill Kawecki, Jenny Selin, Marti Shamberger and Nancy Ganz — resulted in a toxic work environment that included “harassment and ridicule in retaliation for exercising her First Amendment rights.”

The suit was originally filed against the city, as well as all four of the council members. Kawecki and Shamberger were later voluntarily removed from the suit by Tucker’s attorney, Sean Cook.

Kawecki, now mayor, and Selin remain on council. Ganz and Shamberger did not seek re-election in 2017.

“This case has been resolved and settled and Linda Tucker looks forward to putting this issue behind her,” Cook told The Dominion Post Thursday evening.

The city will provide Tucker COBRA coverage for 90 days, beginning Aug. 10. The settlement will not impact Tucker’s retirement.

The agreement, in part, states, “This settlement is a compromise of a doubtful and disputed claim and that such payment is not in any way to be construed as an admission of liability, negligence or fault of any kind by the City of Morgantown, Jennifer Selin or Nancy Ganz.”

It goes on to state that Tucker is “fully and immediately separated from her employment with the City of Morgantown,” and cannot seek future employment with the city, engage in disparagement of the city, Selin or Ganz or publicize the details of the settlement.

Likewise the city, Selin and Ganz cannot disparage Tucker or publicize the settlement beyond what is required.

Council convened Thursday’s special session at 8 p.m. before quickly entering executive session on the grounds of attorney, client privilege. Along with council, Assistant City Manager Emily Muzzarelli, City Attorney Ryan Simonton and the city’s counsel in this matter, Debra Scudiere, also attended the session.

Councilor Rachel Fetty participated via teleconference. City Manager Paul Brake is out of town.

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