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Former Manhattan Beach city manager to pay city’s attorney fees, drop lawsuit

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Former Manhattan Beach city manager Geoff Dolan will pay the city $38,800 and drop further legal action.

Manhattan Beach city officials announced Tuesday that former city manager Geoff Dolan will pay the city $38,800 for its attorney fees in a settlement agreement that ends a confounding legal battle that began last May.

Under the agreement, Dolan will also drop further legal action against the city—namely his appeal of a judge’s decision in March to dismiss his initial lawsuit against the city alleging breach of contract and privacy violation. In August, the city was awarded $45,186.99 in attorney fees and costs.

City council unanimously approved the settlement agreement in a closed session Tuesday.

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“This is a well earned victory for the city, which stood firm against the lawsuit,” city attorney Quinn Barrow said in a statement. “Without any further expenditure of public money, this agreement requires Mr. Dolan to dismiss the lawsuit and make a substantial payment to reimburse the City for its attorney fees.”

At the city council meeting Tuesday evening, Barrow estimated that this litigation has cost the city a total of roughly $90,000. The cost of fighting Dolan’s appeal would have incurred an additional estimate of $50,000.

The legal battle between Manhattan Beach and its former city manager of 15 years began last May when he filed a $2 million claim against the city for damages, alleging that the city breached his contract and violated his privacy by publicly releasing what he considered to be private, confidential information—an anonymous letter addressed to then-mayor Portia Cohen accusing him of sexual harassment at a staff retreat.

Dolan, who abruptly resigned in December 2009, claimed that the letter had been confidential under his resignation agreement.

The city rejected his claim, and he promptly filed a lawsuit last October. In March 2012, it was dismissed under California’s Anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) Law, which expedites the dismissal of cases that arise from protected speech about an issue of public interest. Dolan immediately filed to appeal the ruling.

“The circumstances surrounding the departure of Mr. Dolan and the events that preceded his departure have had a great impact not only on the city council and city staff but also a tremendous impact on the community,” city manager Dave Carmany said in a statement. “We are all relieved to put this issue to rest and focus on the important issues facing this community.”


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