The City of Wilmington settled a lawsuit filed by a former head of the Wilmington Parks and Recreation Department in the amount of $110,000.
The settlement was reached after a federal court judge in Cincinnati found Scott Parrish’s complaint that city officials denied his due process rights to be “plausible.”
The suit stemmed from what Parrish alleged was a forced resignation in February 2012 after 23 years as parks and recreation superintendent with the city.
U.S. Senior District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel stated in his written order he can infer the city “coerced plaintiff [Parrish] to resign.”
According to the judge, Parrish “adequately pleaded” he was denied a pre-termination hearing, “[defendants] cornered him with the possibility of losing unemployment benefits, and told him they needed an answer for that evening’s meeting.”
Defendants in the lawsuit were the City of Wilmington, Wilmington Mayor Randy Riley and Rick Stanforth, then-president of the Wilmington Parks Board.
When asked to comment on the matter Monday, Riley said he was “really sorry that the whole thing happened like that.”
“My understanding he [Parrish] sent an email he had resigned. Goodness, it was almost a year later we heard there was a lawsuit. I was surprised and greatly disappointed,” said Riley.
In reviewing Parrish’s complaint, Spiegel wrote Parrish stated he spoke with Stanforth, the mayor and Wilmington Human Resources Manager Danny Mongold after allegedly being directed to submit a resignation letter, “and none of them advised him of his procedural right to a pre-termination hearing.”
Spiegel also wrote, “Reasonable officials in the shoes of defendants would have known that forcing plaintiff [Parrish] out of his position without due process amounted to a constitutional violation.”
Of the $110,000 agreed to in the settlement, the city’s insurance provider — the Miami Valley Risk Management Association — paid $65,000 while the remainder came from the city’s insurance reserve funds.
Parrish’s legal counsel, Tobias, Torchia & Simon out of Cincinnati, received $36,462 of the settlement amount.
Gary Huffenberger can be reached at 937-382-2574, ext. 2512 or on Twitter @GHuffenberger.