CINCINNATI (FOX19) - A settlement appears imminent in a lawsuit filed against Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval by a former employee.
Brittney Heitman sued her former boss last year over a non-disclosure agreement she and several of her co-workers signed as a condition of receiving their severance when Pureval terminated their positions shortly after he took office in early 2017 - the first Democrat Clerk of Courts in more than 100 years.
The severances to 15 employees totaled $166,790, according to a resolution that clears the way for the settlement to proceed that the Hamilton County Commission approved in a unanimous 3-01 vote Thursday.
“We are pleased to see the commissioners finally have a chance to address the termination of Ms. Heitman and the other clerk of courts’ employees,” said her attorney, Brian Shrive.
"Brittney and her coworkers should have never been placed in this situation. We appreciate the efforts of the Prosecutor’s office and the Commissioners in protecting Brittney and the others. We are now on track to resolve this matter.”
During the course of the litigation, "it became apparent that the Board of County Commissioners had no role in the authorization or approval of those agreements” the resolution states.
The Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office, which serves as the attorney for the county and its clerk of courts, also was not consulted or involved in helping Pureval execute the non-disclosure statements, a spokeswoman for the office, Julie Wilson, told FOX19 NOW last year.
Commissioners have been advised potential claims for recovery of those funds could be made against all those involved with the termination agreements, according to the resolution.
Now, this resolution will officially approve the payments and indemnify the employees and Pureval, meaning they can’t be asked to repay the money provided the lawsuit is dismissed with prejudice with no further cost and expense to Hamilton County.
“In fairness to the former Hamilton County Clerk of Courts employees who have relied upon those payments, the Board determines that any claims against any individuals involved in those termination agreements should be released," the resolution states.
We reached out to a Pureval spokeswoman for comment and were told he would issue a statement Thursday after the meeting.
Here it is in its entirety:
“Since taking office, I have saved Hamilton County taxpayers $1.6 million. I was elected to clean up the courthouse. And that is exactly what I did. We’ve reduced the size of the office, cut waste and expanded our services. I’m proud of our accomplishments. And we’re grateful to the prosecutor’s office for helping dismiss this case.”
We asked all three of the Hamilton County commissioners for comment.
Instead, we received a short statement from a spokeswoman for the county administration: “The resolution speaks for itself. It facilitates the dismissal of the case.”
We also contacted the State Auditor’s Office, which audits more than 6,000 state and local government agencies in Ohio, provides financial services to them and investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies.
“We were not involved with this so it would be inappropriate for us to comment,” responded Allie Dumski, a spokeswoman for the auditor’s office.