Truitt lawsuit: Frankford town council settles on settlement  

16 chad explaining lawsuit

Frankford town solicitor Chad Lingenfelder, right, shares information on the settlement agreement reached in the lawsuit filed against the town by former town administrator Terry Truitt.

FRANKFORD – A lawsuit filed against the town of Frankford brought by its former town administrator over accrued vacation and sick pay apparently will not go to court.

Frankford’s town council Monday night publicly announced a $7,500 settlement agreement with Terry Truitt, who resigned as administrator in September.

“This ends this chapter,” said Frankford town solicitor Chad Lingenfelder.

Council voted 4-1 to formally accept the settlement.

Marty Presley, Pamela Davis, Edward “Skip” Ash and Joanne Bacon supported the settlement agreement. Greg Welch opposed.

Details were ironed out during a special meeting Feb. 17.  At that meeting town council authorized Mr. Lingenfelder to reach settlement with Ms. Truitt, who was represented by Dover attorney Greg Morris of Liguori, Morris & Yiengst.

The case was scheduled on the March 22 docket in Justice of the Peace Court in Dover. The suit was filed Dec. 2, 2015.

Contacted March 9, Ms. Truitt said she had not heard from her attorney regarding any official settlement.

“As of a result of Monday night’s meeting, I have not been legally informed by my attorney that they did or did not formally approve it yet,” said Mr. Truitt. “There will be no pretense to dropping that until there is a check in hand and signed documents.”

Ms. Truitt’s suit sought just under $12,000 in unused vacation and sick time she claims was accrued during her 13-plus years of employment with the town.

The town initially offered $4,500 which Ms. Truitt rejected. The town’s policy capped her pay at $4,500, Mr. Lingenfelder said.

However, that policy cap was not followed in departures of two other employees – police officers Nate Hudson and William Dudley. Both received more back pay than what should have been allotted.

“There is an argument to be made that those policies were not abided by for other employees, said Mr. Lingenfelder.

“Nothing made me madder than what I think is blatantly obvious, that the town of Frankford is being taken advantage of,” said Mr. Presley. “That being said … my point is we in fact paid two other employees more than we should have paid them.”

According to Ms. Truitt, on her final day of employment with the town she left with two checks signed by authorized town council signees, Ms. Bacon and Ms. Davis. One check was for her regular pay and the other for $7,000-plus in post-tax net pay for back pay.

Ms. Truitt said she dropped the checks off at her bank for deposit the next morning. Later that day the bank called to inform her that Ms. Bacon had stopped payment on the check for her accrued back pay.

Mr. Presley said the town in essence is paying for lack of oversight.

“Each week two council members have got to sign the paychecks. It shows the accrued vacation and the accrued sick time,” Mr. Presley said. “Accountants had warned us previously our HR (Human Resources) policies were not being followed.”

Mr. Welch believes the town should go to court.

“I think we’ve got a very strong case. I wish we would pursue it. At this point in time we’ve already agreed,” said Mr. Welch. “It was her job. She knew about it. She was misrepresenting the policy.”

Mr.  Ash supported the settlement but stated “there’s a wrong been done. I want that it be corrected. Somewhere along the line it has got to be stopped.”

Elizabeth Carpenter, who resigned from Frankford council last December, was among the audience members who addressed the settlement issue.

“In human resources law if one person is treated differently than other employees that is considered discrimination,” said Ms. Carpenter. “What her lawyer is making the case and Chad is trying to explain is that the lack of oversight by the council enabled her to interpret and put into effect the policy that she wanted, not the policy that was on the paper. Had the council at the time been more diligent in their responsibility of managing their employees that overpayment to Dudley and Nate and to Terry likely would not have happened; not a guarantee, but likely would not have happened.”

Mr. Presley said the town could conceivably lose between $14,500 and $15,000 if it lost the court case. Even if it won, he said there would be the initial $4,500 back pay offer plus upward of $2,500 to $3,000 in legal fees.

In essence, the town would be going to court “in my opinion to win $500,” said Mr. Presley.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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