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COA divided over dismissing fired HR director’s complaint

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The Indiana Court of Appeals was split over whether Delaware County commissioners could terminate the contract of the Board of Commissioners’ human resources director after two new members were elected to the board.

Beverly Evans was hired in 2007 and given an employment contract saying she’d serve as H.R. director for three years. But about two years into the employment term, Evans’ contract was terminated after two new commissioners were elected to the board. The board didn’t provide Evans with 15 days written notice of her termination for good cause as required by her employment contract.

She sued in 2011 for breach of contract, and the board of commissioners sought to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim under Trial Rule 12(B)(6). The trial court denied the motion, but a divided appellate court on interlocutory appeal reversed.

Judges Cale Bradford and John Baker agreed with the board’s argument that by binding it to its predecessor members’ choice for H.R. director, Evans’ contract prevents the board’s successor members from implementing the polices desired by the majority of the public who elected them. The majority cited caselaw which said that a county board of commissioners doesn’t have the power to limit the discretionary functions of its successors.

In The Board of Commissioners of Delaware County a/k/a Delaware County Commissioners v. Beverly J. Evans, 18A05-1201-PL-14, the majority found the language in Evans’ employment contract and job description requires the performance of discretionary functions.

“Were it to be held valid, Evans’s contract would inhibit the Board, as newly constituted, from exercising the discretionary powers entrusted to it by the electorate,” Bradford wrote. “Evans’s contract is therefore void as against public policy, and her complaint fails to state an actionable claim.”

But Chief Judge Margret Robb didn’t agree that Evans’ complaint should be dismissed. Her employment contract does appear to grant her a role in certain discretionary functions, but Robb doesn’t think it goes so far as to limit the discretionary functions of the commissioners overseeing her position.

“The major decision-making authority remains with the Commissioners,” she wrote.

 

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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