Best received $185K in settlement
SUNBURY - Kymberley Best was paid $185,000 by a county insurer as part of a settlement agreement with Northumberland County.
Details of the settlement were unsealed by a federal judge on Tuesday on a successful petition by The News-Item and released Thursday by Northumberland County through a Right-to-Know request.
The settlement was reached April 2, and the county's liability policy with ACE Westchester Fire Insurance Co. allowed the firm to settle without the county's consent. The cost to Northumberland County was a flat $25,000 deductible paid to the insurer after the suit was filed.
Commissioner Vinny Clausi and former Commissioner Merle Phillips were each named in Best's federal lawsuit, filed in May 2011 after she was fired two months prior from the positions of chief clerk and assistant county solicitor.
Best had claimed wrongful termination and defamation. She followed with a pair of amended complaints, with some claims in the first amendment dismissed by a federal judge in August 2012.
Clausi and Phillips had also filed motions requesting the suit be dismissed, citing immunity as public officials.
A federal court order in June approved a joint motion of all parties involved in the settlement to seal the details from public disclosure. An attorney for The News-Item filed the motion to intervene in August asking that it be unsealed, which occurred Tuesday.
Clausi said Thursday that he was disappointed in the settlement process. He said his deposition was 10 minutes long, that Phillips wasn't deposed and that no witnesses were provided. He was also critical of an attorney working for ACE Westchester.
"If the insurance company wants to waste their money like that, that's up to them. In my opinion, it was a disgrace," Clausi said in a written statement.
Best has announced her candidacy for Northumberland County Commissioner in 2015.
Reached Thursday, Best said she could not comment due to the terms of the settlement.