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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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  3. I work with some older lawyers in the 70s, 80s, and they are sharp as tacks compared to the foggy minded, undisciplined, inexperienced, listless & aimless "youths" being churned out by the diploma mill law schools by the tens of thousands. A client is generally lucky to land a lawyer who has decided to stay in practice a long time. Young people shouldn't kid themselves. Experience is golden especially in something like law. When you start out as a new lawyer you are about as powerful as a babe in the cradle. Whereas the silver halo of age usually crowns someone who can strike like thunder.

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  5. Family court judges never fail to surprise me with their irrational thinking. First of all any man who abuses his wife is not fit to be a parent. A man who can't control his anger should not be allowed around his child unsupervised period. Just because he's never been convicted of abusing his child doesn't mean he won't and maybe he hasn't but a man that has such poor judgement and control is not fit to parent without oversight - only a moron would think otherwise. Secondly, why should the mother have to pay? He's the one who made the poor decisions to abuse and he should be the one to pay the price - monetarily and otherwise. Yes it's sad that the little girl may be deprived of her father, but really what kind of father is he - the one that abuses her mother the one that can't even step up and do what's necessary on his own instead the abused mother is to pay for him???? What is this Judge thinking? Another example of how this world rewards bad behavior and punishes those who do right. Way to go Judge - NOT.

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