Chief McClung retirement on hold? Perkins trustees reject settlement

PERKINS TWP. A 2-0 vote by Perkins Township trustees Monday night unraveled a lawsuit settlement and
MIKE FITZPATRICK
May 24, 2010

 

PERKINS TWP.

A 2-0 vote by Perkins Township trustees Monday night unraveled a lawsuit settlement and may have thrown a monkey wrench into police Chief Tim McClung's retirement plans.

After a nearly two-and-a-half-hour executivesession, trustees voted to reject a proposed settlement in the civil suit filed by McClung and police Lt. AlMatthews against the township, trustee Bill Dwelle and his wife, Sandy Dwelle.

Trustees Tim Coleman and Jeff Ferrell voted to reject the proposed settlement while Dwelle, on the advice of his attorney, William Smith Jr., abstained.

The trustees requested in the motion that "further settlement discussions bepursued."

The proposed settlement was reached after an all-day mediation session Wednesday in Erie County Common Pleas Court.

"I think all parties involved want to get this behind us, but I think it's better to do it to everybody's satisfaction and get it done so everyone can live with the result," Coleman said.

The lawsuit was filed in May 2007 seekingdamages against the Dwelles and the township for "malicious defamation" resulting in a "hostile work environment," according to the suit.

Dwelle said late last week an agreement had been reached and there would be a meeting tonight for the trustees to vote on it.The trustees will not meet tonight, Dwelle said.

"The thought was there would be a meeting (tonight). But there were some issues that came up on it that had to be discussed, and that's what the meeting was for (Monday night)," Dwelle said.

"The details were considered by the board, and they decided to take the action they did," township attorney John Coppeler said when asked why the trustees voted to reject the proposed settlement.

McClung, reached at his home Monday night, declined comment.

A source inside the police department confirmed last week that McClung planned to retire May 1.

A Register reporter who was in the chief's office Monday to interview him on a separate matter said the chief's office was packed as if he was leaving his post.

Dwelle said he expects lawyers from both sides to pick up the negotiations again, but did not say when he thought that would happen.

McClung has been police chief since 1995,when he was appointed to replace Richard Burrows, who died.