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.

Quincey claim .pdf
Quincey claim .pdf

"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
QUINCEY

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.

The day before Dunn sent his email, the city received a federal grant jury subpoena seeking documents related to a claim by then-Upland police Sgt. John Moore, alleging he was harassed and passed over for a promotion because he had investigated a domestic dispute involving Quincey, as well as payments made to police union attorney Dieter Dammeier and emails, police reports and other documents involving Quincey.

The city was being investigated by the FBI at the time.

Former Mayor John Pomierski was eventually indicted in March on federal corruption charges.

On Dec. 8, Quincey informed the City Council that Curley was requesting a list of federal projects budgeted for the city, which he believed to be far beyond the scope of the subpoena.

According to the claim, Quincey was concerned that Curley was retaliating against him because of the audit as well as his prior refusal to execute any waiver of conflicts of interest that would have allowed his law firm 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.

According to the claim, the city violated a labor code because Quincey's audit was protected conduct.

 

Two settlements

 

In December 2009, Dammeier filed a claim on behalf of Upland police demanding the city pay them for "donning and doffing" - the time putting on and taking off their uniforms and gear.

Quincey settled the claim in January 2010 for $25,000 in attorney's fees and $57,816 in damages owed to Dammeier's firm, Lackie, Dammeier & McGill.

Quincey reported the claim to the council, which gave unanimous approval of the settlement, according to the claim.

That same month, Dammeier emailed a tort claim to Quincey on behalf of Moore who investigated the domestic incident involving Quincey and an ex-fiancee.

According to the police report for the incident, officers were called to the home of Quincey's ex-fiancee on July 27, 2008, after she received three text messages from him that she found threatening.

The officers also investigated claims that Quincey kicked and punched her car when she was leaving his residence earlier in the day.

No charges were filed.

Quincey agreed to settle with the officer for $25,000 in attorney fees and a promotion to lieutenant.

Quincey negotiated the settlement with the approval of former Mayor John Pomierski, according to the claim.

Quincey did not need approval to settle for $25,000 nor was he required to report the existence of Moore's claim to the council, according to Quincey's claim.

"I can tell you Mr. Quincey had the authority to settle the Moore claim, and he settled it within that authority," Wohrle said. "And certainly it was not hidden and as I said earlier the check that was issued was issued pursuant to the normal channel."

The two checks were written in January and August of 2010, after being processed through the city's Finance Department. The payments were included on the city treasurer's registers as well as approved by the City Council's Finance Committee, according to the claim.

 

Defamation

 

Quincey's claim also seeks damages caused by comments made by Willis and Musser in public and in the newspaper.

"Each of these statements would be highly offensive to a reasonable person," according to the claim. "Musser and Willis each knew, or with the exercise of reasonable diligence should have known, of the falsity of each of these statements and of the false light in which such statements would have placed and did place Claimant."

Damages sought as a result of the alleged defamation could be determined by an expert specializing in how one's ability to find work again is impaired by such statements, according to Wohrle.

Quincey has been impaired in his ability to find a new job, he said.

"Robb Quincey is 51 years old and I hope he lives a long life and he wants to go back to work, but at this point he can't get the kind of work that is commensurate with his education, training and experience," he said. "He certainly doesn't want to retire."


Reach Sandra via email, call her at 909-483-8555, or find her on Twitter @UplandNow .