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County settles wrongful termination suit
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Newton-Newton County has agreed to settle with former landscaping contractor William Durden for $45,000 after the latter filed a wrongful termination suit in 2013.

The settlement included a “no admission of liability” clause on behalf of the county, and was approved three to two at Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners meeting, with Commissioners John Douglas and Levie Maddox objecting.

Durden is appealing the dismissal of a second suit for defamation and libel against County Chairman Keith Ellis and the late former County Manager John Middleton.

Durden says he filed suit only after the county refused to honor his contract by paying him $42,000 for 150 days of severance pay. Since then, he says, the county has spent more than $200,000 in legal fees fighting the case, and in the end settled for more than his initial severance package.

The county was unable to provide the total sum spent on the two lawsuits as of press time.

“I tried to negotiate with them,” said Durden of the Board of Commissioners. “They could have paid me $42,000 in April of 2013.”

“They didn’t think because of my financial situation that I would be able to get a lawyer and defend myself, but I proved them wrong,” he added.

Durden holds the BOC and county attorney responsible for wasting taxpayer money. “They’re going to pay me and nobody’s going to be held accountable.”

Durden said he is willing to settle the second suit for $55,000. The case was dismissed in summary judgement, but Durden is pursuing an appeal.