CMH lawsuit sttled in mediation

Following the intervention of a mediator, a lawsuit filed against a county agency by its former director was settled before going to trial.

The issue stems from a November 2017 lawsuit filed by Liz O’Dell, former executive director of Community Health and Substance Abuse Services of St. Joseph County.

CMH board members in August last year terminated O’Dell based on allegations of directing legal counsel to perform legal work, including the drafting of a lawsuit without the board’s approval or knowledge; holding and participating in meetings that violated the Open Meetings Act; directing CMH’s former chief finance officer to ignore the “ability-to-pay” rules under the Mental Health Code; and waiving the attorney-client privilege without board authorization by sending draft documents prepared by legal counsel to third parties.

O’Dell claimed breach of contract, that her whistleblower rights were violated, wrongful interference with her employment contract, and unjust interference with her business relationship or expectancy with CMH.

As the result of a mediation session held four months ago in Detroit, O’Dell was awarded $205,000 by CMH. It was also ruled that O’Dell would not pursue the matter regarding the alleged violation of her whistleblower rights over a Medicaid fraud charge

The dollar amount represents one year of O’Dell’s salary plus legal fees related to the case.

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