Former Talent city manager sues for damages

TALENT — Former City Manager Jay Henry has filed a tort claim with the city of Talent to recover damages he alleges were caused by the actions of three City Council members.

Henry's employment was terminated July 1 after the council voted not to renew his contract.

Conduct by council members Chris Auer, Diane Glendenning and Dan Goyette, in their official, individual and personal capacities, escalated until Henry was wrongfully terminated, asserts Henry's attorney, Robert Bluth of Medford, in the claim letter.

A tort claim is not a lawsuit, but it preserves the right to file suit. The letter also included a notice of nonpayment of wages following the termination.

The claim asserts that Henry's civil rights were violated, depriving him of liberty and property, and that there was intentional interference with contractual and employment relations. It also asserts that unlawful employment practices, defamation, slander, disclosure of confidential information, procedural and due process violations and breach of contract occurred.

Reached by phone, Bluth declined to answer questions about the tort claim. Henry did not return calls seeking comment.

Auer, Glendenning and Goyette were elected to the council in November 2010 and began service in January 2011. At meetings they questioned Henry's actions and decisions made by the previous City Council about Henry's employment.

Glendenning raised issues about two executive sessions the previous council held in September 2010 in which Henry's employment contract was discussed, although the meetings were ostensibly called for a performance review.

Glendenning said she was concerned that no minutes were kept of those sessions, as required by law, and that the council discussed a topic that was not allowed. After the second session, the council agreed to modify Henry's contract to increase his severance pay but took no formal vote on the action.

On June 1, the council voted, 3-2, to void the contract amendment, with Glendenning, Auer and Goyette voting for the action.

During the meeting, City Attorney Kurt Knudsen advised the council it could void the amendment but the status of the contract was uncertain.

"My research indicates that the council's infraction is not fatal to the contract itself," said Knudsen.

Bluth's claim asserts the trio led the council against the advice of the city attorney to unlawful modification of Henry's contract.

Later at the same meeting, the council voted, 4-1, to not renew Henry's contact effective July 1. Councilman E.J. McManus voted with Auer, Glendenning and Goyette to void Henry's employment. Councilman Sherman Lamb was opposed.

Glendenning referred questions about the tort to Interim City Manager Dale Shaddox.

Shaddox said Citycounty Insurance Service, the city insurer, will handle the litigation and refused comment.

"With those kinds of things we refer them to CIS right away," said Shaddox.

Calls to CSI were not returned.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at

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