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CAMPBELL Judge dismisses lawsuit of ex-school treasurer



Published: Sat, August 10, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The judge said the ex-treasurer failed to prove the school board discriminated against him.

By BOB JACKSON

VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- A federal judge has dismissed former Campbell school treasurer Joseph Sebest's lawsuit against the school board, but Sebest's lawyer said it's not the end of the road.

"It's a setback, but it's not over," said Atty. Eric E. Norton of Cleveland.

Sebest sued the school district in June 2001, contending he was wrongly terminated from the position he had held for just nine months. The board breached its contract with him and discriminated against him because of a perceived physical disability, the suit said.

But Judge David D. Dowd Jr. of U.S. District Court, Akron, wrote in his decision that Sebest and his lawyers failed to prove the contentions, so he threw out the suit.

Norton said he could pursue a breach of contract lawsuit in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court. He also intends to ask the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse Judge Dowd's ruling.

Sebest was appointed interim treasurer in April 1999 and served through the remainder of that year. When the school board offered him a two-year contract in January 2000, Sebest declined it in a dispute over salary, after which the board rescinded the offer.

Sebest's suit said some board members perceived him as a health risk because he'd had cancer in the early 1980s. The board refused to hire him because it feared incurring high health insurance costs should his cancer recur, the suit said.

Judge Dowd said that the board hired Sebest in the first place, and offered him a two-year deal, knowing that he'd had cancer in the past.

His replacement

He also noted that Pat McLaughlin, who had been interim treasurer before Sebest and who was hired to replace Sebest, also was a cancer survivor.

The board would not have taken those actions if it were concerned about increased health costs, the judge's ruling says.

This is the second court ruling that's gone against Sebest this summer. The 7th District Court of Appeals ruled against him in June.

After his contract with the board fell through, Sebest filed an appeal in common pleas court, where the board's action was upheld.

Sebest then went to the appellate court, which ruled that the matter never should have gone to trial court in the first place.

The appellate judges said Sebest was not actually terminated because he'd never signed the new contract. Instead, his employment simply expired, so the board was not required to follow state due process rules for terminating employees, the court ruled.

bjackson@vindy.com




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