Paine College and a former vice president have decided to settle a civil lawsuit instead of taking the case before a federal court jury this week.
Jury selection was set to begin Monday in U.S. District Court in the lawsuit by Brandon Brown, but both sides agreed to the settlement and the lawsuit will be dismissed once the agreement is executed, according to court documents. Terms of the settlement were not stated in the lawsuit.
Brown filed suit in 2015 contending the school, through then new president, Samuel Sullivan, refused to honor the July 2014 four-year employment contract extended by the former president George Bradley.
Brown contended Sullivan informed him in October 2014 that the contract was unenforceable and that he was eliminating Brown’s position as senior vice president of institutional advancement. He offered Brown the lower position of vice president of institutional advancement without a guarantee of continued employment.
Brown said he was terminated Oct. 9, 2014, and sought damages of more than $400,000. Brown also contended a Georgia Department of Labor’s judicial officer also found in his favor.
The college countered that Brown’s contract was not binding and that Bradley acted wrongfully to enrich his associates at the school’s expense. Although the college did not admit any liability, it contended Brown’s potential damages should be limited because he rejected the other job which paid $93,000 a year.
A second, unrelated lawsuit against Paine College is still pending. Freddie Johnson sued in 2015 contending Bradley wrongfully terminated his severance pay agreement. The agreement gave Johnson up to $50,350 in monthly payments of $2,500 for career transition services. Johnson contends he provided what he was supposed to as part of the agreement – giving the school an update on all pending matters in the Division of Administration and Fiscal Affairs.
For several years Paine College faced financial troubles that led to probation in 2014 and the possible loss of its accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges in 2016. The school is still on probation and later responded by filing a lawsuit, claiming SACS’s standards are biased against small private colleges. The lawsuit is pending and Paine is considered accredited but on probation.
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