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Oct 4, 2019

Court Rules that Former City Admin Candice Miller was Wrongfully Terminated

The case brought against City Hall by the former City Administrator Candice Miller, came to end this afternoon around three-thirty after days of gruelling arguments and counter arguments from both sides. Closing submissions were held on Thursday and by this afternoon; Justice Courtenay Abel was ready with a decision.  The justice ruled in favour of the City Administrator and awarded her in the range of three hundred and seventy-eight thousand dollars and costs of court. A counterclaim brought by the City Council did not stand up in court.   Justice Abel determined that Mayor Bernard Wagner had generally prevented Miller from carrying out her duties at City Hall so that her termination was wrongful. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Candice Miller, Claimant

“I feel vindicated and I am happy that a judge could come and tell the mayor, you just can’t do that; you don’t treat people like that. It’s a victory for myself, it is a victory for the Belize Association of Municipal Administrators that lobbied for these contracts. I am vindicated.”

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Vindicated…Former city administrator Candice Miller is victorious in court and wins claim against the Belize City Council for wrongful termination. This afternoon, Justice Courtney Abel handed down the decision in the trial which began on October first in which Miller was seeking damages of almost half a million dollars. The council also made a counterclaim of over a million dollars on Miller, but that did not stand. The Justice ruled that based on the evidence presented before the court as well as the testimonies of the four witnesses, including executive secretary Sandra Moguel, former administrative secretary Lisbeth Butler, Jules Vasquez and Mayor Bernard Wagner, Miller did not neglect her duties and her termination was unjustified.

 

Magali Perdomo

Magali Perdomo, Attorney for Candice Miller

“When Miss Miller was terminated, she was terminated on three specific grounds and the court found that neither of those grounds, none of them was enough to warrant Miss Miller to be dismissed summarily and so we were successful in the claim. What the court has said is that you don’t prevent someone—essentially, I am not going to say exactly—but the meaning behind it is that you can’t stop somebody from doing their duties and then turn around and claim that they were grossly in dereliction of their duties; that’s just not how it works.”

 

According to city hall, Miller was terminated because she was derelict on her duties as city administrator when she failed to inform the Mayor and the council of a million-dollar claim by Belize Waste Control. They believe she also did not demand full payment from Enrique Carballo, the general secretary of the mayor’s association, for a loan approved by former mayor Darrell Bradley, but was never repaid. And third ground was the payment of fifty-nine thousand six hundred to Gilbert Franklin on March eighth, 2018 even before the newly elected P.U.P. council was sworn in. All three grounds on which Miller was terminated were ventilated during the proceedings and the judge ruled that while the council may not have been happy with what happened, Miller was not negligent and could not be classified as a dereliction of duties.

 

Bernard Wagner

Bernard Wagner, Belize City Mayor

“The results are not what we anticipated clearly, but the court has ruled and we will review with our attorneys and see where we take it from there.”

 

Reporter

“Is there any thought to appeal?”

 

Bernard Wagner

“I can’t comment on that right now. I will have to meet with my attorney obviously over the weekend and certainly next week we will be able to give you some response on that.”

 

While the parties refused to share the total award that Miller gets, in court, we know that the former City Administrator conceded to one hundred and twenty thousand dollars and so she will be awarded somewhere around three hundred and seventy-eight thousand plus dollars plus cost of court, which is just under seventy thousand dollars. But is city hall in the financial position to deliver on the award?

 

Bernard Wagner

“At this point in time, I cannot discuss that, but I am certain by next week, you will have that figure and then we will be able to give you some update on it.”

 

Magali Perdomo

“I don’t really want to go into the quantum because the judge has given a draft decision and until that is completed; we have agreed to be very confidential about its contents. It’s never a fortunate time to come to court and deal with things like this. It’s very costly, time consuming. The mayor has had to leave his office; my client has had to left work. It is never a good thing for everybody. B8t what it is a contract is a contract is a contract. You must abide by the contract. And so you might not agree with things that might have happened in the first administration. The just was clear, but you do not come in and then penalize someone on false grounds. And so to me that is the lesson to take away from this whole dilemma.”

 

Candice Miller

While Wagner will meet with his lawyer to determine a way forward, Miller walks away feeling justified in her actions.

 

Candice Miller

“As city administrator I did my job. I did my job. I worked diligently. There was no instance of dereliction and I am happy that the judge agreed with me.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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