Sandra Emerson, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Created: 11/02/2011 11:45:09 AM PDT

Read: Quincey Claim

UPLAND – Former City Manager Robb Quincey has filed a notice of claim with the city over his termination.

Quincey, who was terminated in May by the City Council, is seeking unlimited damages, accusing the city of breaching his employment contract, wrongful termination and violating labor codes.

The claim also accuses Mayor Ray Musser and Councilman Ken Willis of defamation and placing Quincey in false light.

Quincey seeks reimbursement for attorney’s fees associated with filing the claim as well as indemnification of his defense costs in the federal grand jury investigation of the city of Upland, per his employment agreement.

“I guess the overall feeling is that Robb Quincey had a deal with the city, and a deal’s a deal,” said Joseph Wohrle, Quincey’s civil attorney.

In addition, according to the claim, the city withheld payments and other benefits that were due to Quincey. The city also took inappropriate deductions from funds due to him as well as from his retirement and similar funds, according to the claim.

Wohrle said he did not want to disclose the amount of damages Quincey may be seeking, but said “unlimited” means more than $25,000.

“Well, there is a dollar amount, we just have not finished the calculations, but they are substantial we believe,” Wohrle said.

An amount will also be sought for the defamation and false light claims, he said.

“There will be a dollar amount, but because of the damages to Mr. Quincey’s livelihood it is at this time incalculable,” he said.

Willis and Musser said they were advised by the city attorney not to comment.

Quincey’s employment agreement with the city included an arbitration provision, Wohrle said.

“So we anticipate that if the claim is not resolved beforehand, then ultimately we will be in arbitration,” he said. “We would certainly be interested in entertaining a settlement offer or discussing settlement with the city, but we already tried to do that.”

Quincey was placed on paid leave of absence in January following reports that he settled two claims in January 2010 involving Upland police for $50,000, which at the time surpassed the amount he was allowed to settle.

However according to Quincey’s claim, the two claims were settled separately for $25,000 each, which was within his authority.

The council terminated Quincey for violating his employment contract and failing to follow specific council direction. However, the city never specified the violations that resulted in his termination, Wohrle said.

The claim states that, based on the events leading up to his termination, Quincey believes he was terminated for scrutinizing the billing practices of City Attorney William Curley and his firm, Richards, Watson & Gershon; refusing to execute a waiver of conflicts of interest that would have allowed the law firm to to represent other local municipalities and/or water agencies of which the city was a member, in some instances, in litigation matters against the city; as well as his settlement of the two Upland police claims.

According to the claim, the reasons for termination constitute a wrongful termination and violated the state’s public policy and labor codes.

“It is my understanding that the former city manager benefited greatly from his personal relationship with the former mayor, much at the expense of Upland taxpayers,” said Councilman Gino Filippi. “Unfortunate to say the least. I would vote again to terminate his contract if I had the opportunity.”

City Councilman Brendan Brandt said, “I have been advised by the city attorney that the matter is now a legal matter, and that I have no comment other than it’ll run through the standard legal process with the city.”

Cause for termination

Quincey’s claim alleges three causes for his termination, which he believes to be in violation of his employment agreement with the city as well as other labor laws and public policy.

Quincey’s claim alleges part of the reason for his termination was because he conducted a third-party audit of the billings from Curley and his law firm.

In November 2010, Quincey asked the city’s third-party claims investigator, NovaPro Risk Solutions, to audit one month of the law firm’s legal fees on the litigation involving the San Bernardino County Flood Control District and G3 Holistic, a medical marijuana cooperative in Upland.

In an email sent in December to Quincey from then-Finance Director Stephen Dunn, who is now city manager, Dunn noted several instances in which the city may have been billed amounts that were “excessive and possibly frivolous.”

Quincey relayed the concerns to the City Council.

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