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Former comptroller's lawsuit rejected

Former comptroller's lawsuit rejected

George J. Phillips sought accrued benefits after 2012 termination

GLENVILLE -- A mid-level appeals court has rejected the lawsuit of a former Glenville town comptroller who said he was improperly denied benefits after he was terminated in 2012.

The five-member Third Department Appellate Division court in Albany on Thursday unanimously found in favor of the town, upholding a lower court's dismissal of the lawsuit brought by George J. Phillips.

Phillips served as town comptroller from 2001 to 2010, and then as acting comptroller for two more years after the Town Board didn't reappoint him and didn't name a replacement.

His employment was terminated by the Town Board at the end of 2012, but Phillips said he intended to resign and sought payment for accrued sick time.

In the subsequent lawsuit, according to the appeals court's summary, Phillips contended his termination violated the law, was improper, and that he was entitled to accrued sick time, personal time, vacation time and lost salary. The potential payments he was seeking totaled about $30,000, according to the town.

The town sought to have the lawsuit dismissed, and in 2016, state Supreme Court Justice Tom Buchanan did so.

Phillips appealed, leading to Thursday's decision. The appeals court noted Phillips was not part of a collective bargaining unit and did not have a contract with the town.

"Absent any express limitation on (the town's) authority to terminate (Phillips), the Town Board was within its discretion to terminate plaintiff, as an at-will employee, at its December 2012 meeting," the judges wrote. "Moreover, as a terminated employee, (Phillips) was not eligible to receive an award of any accrued benefits."

Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle said he concurred with the decision, but that he couldn't comment on the reasons the Town Board decided to terminate Phillips.

The court also found there was no violation of the state Open Meetings Law when the Town Board entered a Dec. 12, 2012, executive session, in which Phillips' employment status was discussed.

Reach Daily Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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