Headline — 22 August 2018 — by Rowland A. Parks
Candice Miller, former City Administrator, files wrongful termination claim for $498,135

In counter claim, City Hall sues Miller for one million dollars

BELIZE CITY, Fri. Aug. 17, 2018– When the Supreme Court re-opens for its September session, one of the cases that will go into case management early in the session is the claim against Belize City Mayor, Bernard Wagner, and the Belize City Council, by Candice Miller for wrongful termination.

Mayor Bernard Wagner is named in Miller’s lawsuit as the first defendant and the Belize City Council is named as the second defendant. Miller’s court paper is dated July 11, 2018.

In their response to Miller’s claim, however, the Belize City Council filed a counterclaim on August 10, 2018 for one million dollars, because CitCo is alleging that she failed in her duty to file a defense in a sanitation company claim against the Council that resulted in a million-dollar default judgment against the Council.

For her part, Miller is seeking a declaration from the court that the defendants wrongfully and unlawfully terminated her without cause as City Administrator.

“A declaration that by suspending the Claimant (Miller) the First Defendant (Mayor Wagner) breached natural justice and his implied duty of mutual trust and confidence owed to the claimant,” stated court papers.

In addition, Miller is asking the court for $498,135.35 in general and special damages for breach of contract employment by the defendants in their wrongful and unlawful termination of her, as City Administrator for gross dereliction of duties pursuant to Clause 12.1 of the contract of employment date September 1, 2017.

The court papers filed on Miller’s behalf by her attorney Magalie Perdomo, from the law firm of Reyes Retreage LLP, referred to “damages for breach of contract and the claimant’s rights to natural justice prior to her suspension from her post as City Administrator.”

Miller is also asking the court for exemplary damages, interest at the statutory rate, cost and any further relief the court may deem just.

In the defense for the Belize City Council, attorney Anthony Sylvestre, from the law firm of Musa and Balderamos LLP, said in the filed court papers that “…the defendant owed a duty of care to the second defendants (the City Council) to promote the best interest of the second defendant and to act in accordance with the Belize City Council Act and Regulations and to act in a manner reasonably expected  of a prudent and skilled person conducting business as the Chief Executive Officer of the second defendant.”

The court papers went on to say that Miller’s duties at the City Council “…was not limited to to that of financial oversight and attending Council meetings, and further cognizant that the pending Claim No. 107 of 2018, Belize Waste Control Limited v Belize City Council, in the sum of $1,000,000 was served on the second defendant on the 27 February, 2018, [she] failed to take the necessary steps to engage the service of counsel to have a defense filed on behalf of the second defendant, on or before the 27th day of March, 2018.”

“The Claimant was therefore negligent in her duties as City Administrator to at all times promote the best interest of the second defendant and to act in a manner reasonably expected of a skilled person.

“The negligence of the Claimant caused the entry of judgment in default of the filing of a defense to have been entered against the second defendant, in the sum of $1,015,358.36, including court fees; legal practitioner’s fixed cost on the issue, interest, after judgment is paid,” said the court papers.

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Deshawn Swasey

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