A year of health insurance, yes. Nine months pay, no.
This was the ruling passed down Wednesday by U.S. Magistrate John T. Maghmer, who ruled that former Neosho City Manager Jan Blase was entitled to a year of health insurance coverage from the city of Neosho in response to a breach of contract lawsuit, but not nine months pay the suit also requested.
Blase was fired in February 2010 after he admitted that he had borrowed from restricted accounts to pay city bills and make payroll, as the general revenue fund and reserves were both depleted — something he had failed to notify council of for months. Blase was officially reprimanded by the city council for mismanagement of finances, and in late January of that year the council voted to begin the process of removing him from office. Blase was officially terminated one month later.
A wrongful termination lawsuit was dismissed in October 2011 when a federal judge granted a defense motion for summary judgment requesting that the court find in favor of the city in the civil case prior to it going to trial. Legal defense for the city originally answered the complaint on Nov. 17 of that same year, but refiled it later to reflect a response from the city only, rather than the individuals initially named in the lawsuit.
On Wednesday, the judge ruled that Blase had been fired "with cause" and wasn't entitled to the salary benefit. Blase's employee agreement, dated Aug. 21, 2007, stated if he was terminated "without cause" before his contract is up he would be paid nine months severance, provided that he wasn't fired for his "conviction of any illegal act involving personal gain to him."