After a judge ruled that severance provisions of a former county employee's contract are void, a lawyer for the Leavenworth County Commission is seeking to have the entire contract deemed void.

After a judge ruled that severance provisions of a former county employee's contract are void, a lawyer for the Leavenworth County Commission is seeking to have the entire contract deemed void.

The County Commission also is asking the judge to dismiss counterclaims filed by former Human Resources Director Tamara Copeland.

The motion for a summary judgement was filed Aug. 24 by attorney Scott Ryburn, who is representing the County Commission in a lawsuit that was filed last year.

The motion focuses on a five-year contract that was approved for Copeland in September 2016. The contract included provisions that required the county to continue paying and providing benefits to Copeland if she was fired.

Copeland was terminated from her position with the county in October, and commissioners stopped paying her at that time.

In July, Senior Judge Edward Bouker ruled that the severance provisions in Copeland's contract extended beyond the term of the County Commission that approved the contract and were an "attempt to improperly bind successor boards in matters incident to their own administration and responsibility." Bouker ruled the provisions were contrary to public interest.

At the time of his ruling, Bouker did not dismiss counterclaims that had been filed on behalf of Copeland.

The lawsuit, which was filed after a change in the makeup of the commission, initially challenged the contracts of Copeland, County Counselor Mollie Hill, Deputy County Counselor Andrea Hughes and Road and Bridge Superintendent Vincent Grier.

Grier later was dismissed from the lawsuit.

Hill and Hughes also were terminated from their positions. Hill has since been hired to work for the Leavenworth County Sheriff’s Office.

In May, the County Commission reached settlements with Hill and Hughes.

The motion for summary judgement filed by Ryburn argues that Copeland's contract was politically motivated by county commissioners who were trying to bind future commissioners.

"At the time Copeland's contract was signed in September 2016, Commissioner (Bob) Holland stated publicly, in an open meeting, that the reason for giving Copeland a five-year contract was to prevent future commissioners from terminating her," Ryburn wrote in the motion.

Of the two commissioners who voted to approve Copeland's contract, Holland is the only one who remains on the commission. Even though the lawsuit was filed on behalf of the County Commission, Holland has been critical of the legal action.

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