LACONIA — The Belknap County Commissioners have signed a confidential settlement agreement with Belknap County Nursing Home Administrator Matthew Logue in which Logue resigned his position and will receive $62,500 from the county's insurance firm, Primex.
The confidential agreement was obtained by the Daily Sun after a Right to Know law request was filed with Belknap County Administrator Debra Shackett, The agreement prohibits parties to the settlement, including Shackett, from commenting on it other than saying that "the matter has been resolved."
The settlement payment was proposed by Primex "based on a business judgment relating to the likely cost of litigation and on that basis was agreed to by the County of Belknap and Debra Shackett, all of whom deny any liability for the matters referenced herein,'' according to the six-page document.
The document also says that Logue's resignation ''is not an admission on his part that his job performance with the County of Belknap was deficient.''
The settlement provides that Logue will receive $35,725 in what the document calls "alleged compensatory damages" and that $26,775 in legal fees will be paid to the Douglas, Leonard and Garvey law firm of Concord, which represented him.
Logue, who was hired in December of 2012, has been on paid administrative leave since Oct. 27, and his resignation takes effect on Dec. 23.
He has been at the center of of many disputes between current members of the commission after having been restored in January of this year to the post from which he had been fired in August of 2014 by the previous commissioners.
Logue was discussed at what Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) said was the most heated nonpublic meeting of the commission, which held in late July. The core issue discussed at the meeting was a response to a grievance filed by Logue against the county which apparently named the commissioners and Shackett as offenders. The nature of the grievance was not described in the meeting minutes but is alluded to in minutes of earlier nonpublic sessions.
At the July 15 meeting, commissioners discussed a request by Shackett for legal representation in the "Logue matter," which Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton) said was premature, as the claim had been communicated to the county's insurance carrier.
''The carrier will have to make a determination as to whether the allegations set forth in the Logue demand letter are within the coverage of the county's (insurance) policy,'' the July 15 minutes read.
The so-called demand letter from Logue's attorney was brought up by Commissioner Taylor at the same meeting when he questioned whether or not Commissioner Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton) was suggesting that the commissioners consider offering Logue "the $80,000 referred to in his attorney's demand in return for Mr. Logue's resignation."
In September of 2014, Logue appealed his firing to the Belknap County Convention's Personnel Committee, which at that time consisted of former convention chairman Rep. Colette Worsman (R-Meredith), Vice Chairman Rep. Bob Greemore (R-Meredith) and Burchell, who at that time was a state representative from Gilmanton and clerk of the county convention.
The committee voted unanimously following a lengthy hearing in October of 2014 to reinstate Logue as nursing home administrator and denied a request from the former commissioners to reconsider the issue, which led to the commissioners filing a suit with the New Hampshire Supreme Court to overturn the reinstatement. But Burchell and DeVoy, who were the only two commissioners to take office in early January of this year, voted to drop the appeal and reinstated Logue. They had made their intention to drop the appeal public before they took office.
Burchell, who was elected as chairman of the commission in January, was ousted as chairman in early March and replaced by DeVoy at a March 2 meeting. His ouster was supported by Taylor, who had been named to fill a vacancy on the commission in late January.
At a June 4 meeting, commissioners Taylor and DeVoy censured Burchell for leaking information from a nonpublic meeting in February to Logue and in July unsealed the minutes of seven nonpublic meetings held while Burchell was chairman.
The minutes of the nonpublic meeting of Feb. 23 showed that Logue had filed a grievance maintaining that electronic mail communications were illegally taken from his work computer, depriving him of the opportunity to refute charges made against him by County Administrator Shackett at the October hearing.
Regarding a written statement on Logue's grievance, which he had filed with Burchell on Feb. 16, commissioners Taylor and DeVoy pointed out that Logue had not been denied a request for restoration of his work e-mail and had been directed by the county administrator's office to contact Mainstay Technologies, the county's information vendor, to inquire about the feasibility of restoring his e-mail history.
At the time he filed his grievance, the process of restoring his email was already underway, according to the two commissioners, who said the time requirement for filing a grievance is within five working days of an employee knowing that they have a grievance, and that Logue, who had returned to work on Jan. 8, had discussed the missing emails with Administrative Assistant Angela Bovill in mid-January. They concluded his grievance had not been filed on time and denied it.
The commissioners also said Logue's conclusion that his emails were wrongfully taken had no evidence to support it as there was no hint of any intentional wrongdoing. Logue had been away from his work computer for four months but had received an e-mail file prior to the Oct. 6, 2014, hearing containing all of his email history.
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