Former Weston City Manager files lawsuit against mayor, city and city council member after resigning
A shock Monday as Weston City Manager Chad Minnick resigns and files a suit against city staff accusing them of creating a hostile work environment and violating the open meetings act.
"I did not have any idea that it was coming," said Councilmember Randy Bohan.
Bohan is one of two officials specifically named as defendants in the suit.
"The wording in the lawsuit refrenced my comments in April, when I ran for City Council, that I wanted to be sure to run city council as transparently as possible. Those comments were referenced in the sentence prior to me being named a defendant in the case," said Bohan.
Minnick outlines both Bohan and Mayor Kim Harrison's comments on government transparency in the complaint. He goes on to accuse officials of eliminating the powers and responsibilities of the City Manager position in "a series of both overt and coverts acts and omissions."
Minnick accuses city officials of a conspiracy to retaliate against him through illegal private meetings to obtain "dirt" against him. He says that Resolution 2020-01 was an unlawful amendment that breached his contract and eroded his relationship with the city.
"The city council met and voted at a regular council meeting to appoint myself as human resource liason to provide guidance and council to the city manager and to employees of the city," said Mayor Harrison.
Minnick says the breach was so severe, he had the right to terminate his contract.
Neither Minnick nor his representation chose to comment on the suit.
City officials are now preparing for litigation.
"Personal issue, where I was named personally. I will promise you, he asked for a jury trial and he will get one. I am going to take it to the end so every fact comes out and everything is public," said Bohan.
Former Weston City Manager Chad Minnick filed a lawsuit against the city, the mayor and a council member following his resignation.
Minnick resigned on Monday, city staff said.
The lawsuit names the city, mayor Kim Harrison and councilman Randy Bohan as defendants. It claims they violated the open meetings act, a breach of contract, civil conspiracy and wrongful discharge.
The lawsuit was filed in the Lewis County Circuit Court Tuesday. Minnick is being represented by Simmerman Law Office.
The lawsuit says five new council members were elected in the spring of 2019. After swearing in the council members, city affairs and operations began to change.
Council members began to meet behind closed doors, according to the lawsuit. In Aug. 2019, the city eliminated the Finance Manager position, less than three months after new council members were sworn in.
Minnick's City Manager employment contract was amended and affirmed in Nov. 2019, the lawsuit states. Following the amendment, the city began to change Minnick's terms and conditions of employment.
The lawsuit claims the city began to eliminate powers and responsibilities of the city manager position. Various city officials began to directly interfere with Minnick's day-to-day operations. Some instances were open, and other instances were behind closed doors.
City officials began to meet with city employees behind closed doors without Minnick's knowledge.
A the Jan. 6 city council meeting, the city clerk resigned from her position. The city council moved unexpectedly for an executive session to discuss issues related to Minnick's performance. The lawsuit claims those actions were in direct violation of the West Virginia Open Government Proceedings Act.
Minnick objected to the "unexpected series of events" and asked for an open meeting concerning his employment, the lawsuit states. The city finally agreed that Minnick was correct. However, they disciplined him in the open season for what the lawsuit claims as " pretextual, illusory, improper and false grounds."
The lawsuit alleges that immediately following the meeting, the city held a secret, behind closed doors meeting in an attempt to terminate Minnick. The city clerk was asked to attend the meeting.
The council members as the city clerk for information that could be used against Minnick, the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit claims the city approved Resolution 2020-02 on Feb. 3. The city reassigned supervisory responsibilities "pertaining to the City Clerk and City Finance Manager/Director" to city council.
Minnick is seeking compensatory damages, contractual damages, special damages, economic damages, restitution and all other legal and equitable relief. He also is requesting a jury trial.