It was a week ago Thursday when Channel 6 News broke the story. A $200,000 settlement paid to a former Papillion employee. We continue to pour over details and are highlighting some of the more interesting details of the agreement.
It was signed about a month after former Papillion Mayor James Blinn abruptly resigned. The payout was to his former assistant. A $200,000 and other benefits are laid out in a three-page settlement between the City of Papillion and former employee Rachael Cascio. In addition to the payout, there are 174 hours of paid vacation, 120.5 hours of sick leave and health insurance for 18 months.
To understand it better, we took the settlement to Nancy Lawler Dickhute at Creighton University's Law School. She's spent years teaching law students how to write settlements.
"You have to understand that a settlement agreement is basically a contract," Dickhute explains.
Remember that $200,000 lump sum payout? The settlement never states what it's for.
"Many times the payment that is given will be stated specifically for some injury and here it doesn't state that. It just says that there is a lump sum of $200,000," says Dickhute.
The settlement also states the "employer will supply letter of reference for employee praising her performance in her position."
Then there's the part that reads "neither employee nor employer shall ever speak of this agreement, its terms, employee's claims or threatened claims."
About this Dickhute says, "if either party believes that there could be negative publicity by exposing the terms of the settlement agreement then it's quite common to have a confidentiality clause."
If that confidentiality is breached, the settlement states "should any portion of the information regarding employee's alleged claim against employer be disclosed by the press... employer is permitted to deny the allegations."
"They are certainly permitted to say whatever they want to if they've agreed upon that as part of the terms and conditions of settlement, it's been negotiated. But whether or not they should is another question entirely," says Dickhute.
Papillion's current mayor, David Black, has previously told Channel 6 News that this was a standard settlement negotiated by the insurance company. Beyond that, he says it's a personnel matter and they don't comment on those.
The Sarpy County Attorney has asked Nebraska’s Attorney General to look into this case.