Former city manager sues Sandusky

Nicole Ard seeks year's worth of salary
Andy Ouriel
Jun 24, 2014

Updated (10 p.m.)

Nobody's lonely at City Hall — at least not charter officers or Sandusky city commissioners — after former city manager Nicole Ard filed a lawsuit Monday against all of them and the city.

Ard contends in the lawsuit she was wrongfully terminated — without cause — and is demanding a full year's pay, about $129,000. 

She’s also fighting for continuation of her health insurance benefits program.

“There is no valid excuse for (city officials’) refusal to pay the salary continuation and health insurance benefits owed to (Ard),” according to the lawsuit.

Ard was fired in March after a split 4-3 vote by commission. She had been city manager for just over two years. The city cited her failure to meet expectations set out in a performance improvement plan adopted by commission earlier this year. 

Commissioners, who discussed the lawsuit in an executive session Monday, opted against public comment after the meeting.

Ex officio mayor Dennis Murray Jr. spoke briefly about the lawsuit late Monday.

"The city believes the lawsuit to be without merit and intends to vigorously defend it," Murray said.

The Register obtained a copy of this lawsuit through a public records request.

Among the defendants it lists: Murray, Dick Brady, Julie Farrar, Wes Poole, Scott Schell, Jeff Smith and Naomi Twine; finance director Hank Solowiej and law director Don Icsman.

Murray, Brady, Poole and Twine voted to fire Ard.

Smith, Farrar and Schell voted against the termination.

Commissioners vowed to streamline the hiring process after Ard was fired, and two months later the seven voted unanimously to hire Eric Wobser, executive director of Ohio City Inc., a nonprofit community development and neighborhood revitalization agency in Cleveland, to be city manager after an accelerated search for a new leader.

Wobser, who is from Sandusky and other parts of Erie County, starts July 7. 


Original story:

Former Sandusky city manager Nicole Ard filed a lawsuit on Monday in Erie County Common Pleas Court, alleging all seven city commissioners unjustly fired her.

She wants to obtain roughly $127,000, equivalent to one full year's salary.

Pick up a copy of Tuesday's Register to read more about it





Who didn't see this coming?? Yet another one that thinks they are 'entitled' to something for nothing....PATHETIC!!!

JT Adams St

She signed a contract providing for severance. And, as recently as October 2013, she received a favorable performance review. Nothing happened between October and Murray taking office that would constitute "just cause" for termination. The fact that he had his heart set on firing her, in spite of her positive performance evaluation, doesn't constitute "just cause." So, under her contract she is entitled to severance. That's the deal the city made to get her to come here. And, they all knew, or should have known, at the time they fired her that they were going to have to honor that contract. Which raises the question: why did they offer an even juicier severance package to the new city manager?


I agree with you. The Mandamus Complaint is well drafted and sets forth the fact that the City did not comply with contractual provisions regarding termination for cause.

After Ard obtains her decision from the Court finding the contract valid and that the City breached it's terms look for the real litigation to occur in federal court.

Ralph J.


Whiskey in a Teacup

Your asking the right questions ...

Ralph J.

LIKE. For some odd reasons, I keep triggering the SPAM filter when I post the one word "LIKE". How about a LIKE and DISLIKE button?


I wonder what Mr. Murray's track record as an attorney is ? It sure seems from reading the court documents the decision to fire Ms. Ard was mishandled and the decision to not pay her severance pay and benefits just plain dumb, besides being mean spirited.


Is the city run by Dan Gilbert?

dont get it



Surprise, surprise.

As far as I'm concerned, Ard didn't live up to her contract and should have been terminated even before she was. Despite the fact that the vote was divided, it appears the Commission majority followed right along with all of the proper and necessary procedures to sever the contract. In fact, they followed the contract itself, the very same document signed by Ms. Ard!

It seems that a whole lot of people these days spend a whole lot of time blaming others for their own failings. Sadly, it's often less trouble (not to mention less money) to just pay someone even more to go away than to go to court. Assuming the City has its ducks in a row -- and with a City Law Director on staff and a lawyer leading the Commission, it had BETTER have its ducks in a row! -- I hope there's an exception to the rule and the City stands its ground.




I had heard the same thing from individuals at city hall. She just wasn't getting the job done. In fact I'm still waiting on a phone call from her reguarding the city's bicentennial. No follow through was being done on a lot of stuff.


Haha. What a joke woman. Go get another job to pay your bills. If you would have done your damn job, you wouldn't be in this predicament. Get off your lazy ARD as* and get a job.

God Of Thunder

Holy crap I'm shocked!!!! I can't believe this!!! ( He says dripping with sarcasm, after he has seen her walking by him with her nose in the air and the 2 little mutt dogs she walks). I hope she gets nothing.

From the Grave

I want money too.


I think the city should respond on a torn off corner of yellow notebook paper.

Just scribble some notes on it and bring it to the meetings like she did her budgets.


In crayon too.


Ha! If only we all were paid after we were fired. We'd have no problems! It's not like she was laid off... The money was nice, huh?


Read the complaint. Without reading the actual contract it seems that she has a case.


To quote Gomer Pyle...Surprise, Surprise, Surprise! NOT!


'Pay severance.' You weren't laid off.


Remember how Mr. Murray responded when asked about the severance payment called for in her employment contract. Something about this commission isn't bound by something a previous commission agreed to.

We'll see how this plays out.

Whiskey in a Teacup

Here ye, here ye!
The current commission is not bound by contracts.

Stop It

Does anyone there know how to align a document on a scanner?



Julie R.

Good for her. The city of Sandusky ~ just like those jokes at the corrupt Erie County courthouse ~ think they can do any dirty thing they want to people if it's legal or not.

By the way, it doesn't say who her attorney is. Does she have one? Hard to believe she found an attorney in this corrupt area to fight against a Murray and the joke Erie County courts.


Surprise on your take (rolls eyes)

Julie R.

The firing of Nicole Ard was so obviously pre-planned it was pathetic. The hiring of this Eric Wobser was all planned out, too, even before Ard was fired.


Julie I feel the same way!