News - April 21, 2010

Johns signs lawsuit settlement; council OKS pact on 3-2 vote

by Renee Batti

John Johns, the former finance director of Atherton who sued the town over his firing, has signed a settlement agreement awarding him $225,000, an agreement approved by a 3-2 vote of the council at a March 29 closed session meeting, according to the town.

Mayor Kathy McKeithen and council members Jim Dobbie and Jerry Carlson voted for the settlement, with council members Charles Marsala and Elizabeth Lewis opposed.

In addition to the cash, Mr. Johns will receive a letter of commendation from the town after he is rehired, then resigns.

Under the agreement, Mr. Johns also forfeits the right to sue the town, council members, current and former employees, and contractors, according to a statement issued by the town on April 19.

"The settlement allows the Town to limit its exposure to hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional future litigation costs (including a possible award of attorney's fees to Mr. Johns if he prevailed on certain causes of action), should the case have been litigated through discovery and trial," the written statement said.

Mr. Johns was fired in October 2007. He has maintained that he was targeted for blowing the whistle on fiscal improprieties in Atherton's building and other departments, and filed his wrongful termination lawsuit in 2008.

Mr. Johns said the town pressed for a settlement provision prohibiting him from speaking publicly "on my experiences," but he wouldn't agree to it. Since the agreement was reached, Mr. Johns has issued numerous highly charged statements, both in a public meeting and on Town Square, The Almanac's online forum.


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