A federal district judge’s decision earlier this month to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Yukon’s former city manager also has ended a counter lawsuit filed by the city of Yukon.
City Manager Jim Crosby said a ruling dismissing Grayson Bottom’s lawsuit also ended the city’s federal case against Bottom.
U.S. District Judge Scott L. Palk dismissed Bottom’s lawsuit on Aug. 17, stating that the city of Yukon had the right to dismiss Bottom, who resigned Dec. 4, 2015.
Bottom sued claiming that he was wrongfully terminated, slandered and not paid a severance package.
Palk wrote in his decision that Bottom’s claim was dismissed for failure to state a claim for which relief may be granted. He also declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the case.
Palk said Bottom failed to meet the criteria for the lawsuit.
Bottom filed the lawsuit in 2016 in U.S. Federal Court in Oklahoma City, stating that he was forced to resign the position he had held since January 2011.
Palk, in his ruling, stated that Bottom was an at-will employee and was not guaranteed employment.
And while his contract did state that should Bottom be terminated that he would be paid compensation equal to one year’s salary, it also stated that if the employee resigns or is terminated for “good cause,” the city would be under no obligation to make the payments.
Members of the city council, on Dec. 1, 2015, voted to postpone the renewal of Bottom’s annual contract indefinitely after they became concerned about the city’s finances.
He resigned four days later, saying that he had been asked to leave. His last day on the job was Dec. 31.
In his letter, Bottom wrote: “Until recently, I felt secure in my employment with the city and my desire was to remain as city manager until my retirement. However, the most recent turn of events has undermined my ability to manage.
“Therefore, with a deep feeling of regret, I feel compelled and do hereby tender my resignation effective December 31, 2015. In the meantime, I will help in the transition at this most dynamic time in the city’s history.”
At the time of his resignation, Bottom was earning $145,000 per year.
Palk dismissed the slander portion of the lawsuit, which arose from allegations that city funds may have been misallocated.
Bottom claimed those statements tainted his name and reputation, keeping him from finding other employment.
The judge ruled that Bottom, himself, made comments in December that he was asked to leave by the city council.
In addition, the city’s accounting firm conducted an audit and first connected Bottom’s resignation as being related to improper allocation of city funds.
Palk ruled that Bottom’s claim for severance pay should be heard in state court, not at the federal level, because it would be related to breach of contract.
The city of Yukon’s countersuit had accused Bottom of violating the state’s municipal budget act, breach of fiduciary duty, fraudulent concealment, constructive fraud, fraud —false representation, negligent misrepresentation, negligence and breach of employment contract.
Crosby said the city expects that Bottom will appeal the court’s ruling.
“This eliminates both cases. If they want to refile, it would be in state court,” he said. “We’re taking a wait and see attitude.”
Crosby said he is hopeful the city can move forward.
“This was a trying time for all parties. It is best to see it over for all,” he said.
Meanwhile, lawsuits filed against the city’s former financial adviser and accounting firm are pending in Canadian County District Court.
Crosby said the federal case decision does not affect those cases.