Fired Veterans Services Director Settles Lawsuit Against County

The former head of the embattled Livingston County Veterans Services has settled his lawsuit against the county and the former head of the committee that oversees the department.

Adam Smiddy filed the lawsuit last November in Livingston County Circuit Court against both the county and Hansel Keene, the one-time chair of the veterans committee. Keene later decided not to seek another term leading the board. Court records show the lawsuit was dismissed October 21st following an out-of-court settlement between the various parties. Smiddy had been fired by the Livingston County Veterans Services Committee in August of 2018. While no official reason was provided for his termination, Smiddy maintained it was the direct result of his efforts to determine exactly what happened to cash and other items donated to the department by a local resident who said she could not obtain a receipt despite repeated attempts to do so. The donor said she had written a $400 check to Keene and made other donations including floor cleaners and a riding lawnmower, but that despite repeated requests for a receipt Keene never provided one.

Smiddy said when he contacted Keene, he admitted cashing the check but only using $125 of it for a plaque, while “retaining the balance.” Keene also reportedly said he had “scrapped” the lawnmower and kept the floor cleaners in his garage. Smiddy says he informed Keene he needed to provide a copy of the deposit slip, a receipt for the scrapped lawnmower and return the cleaners. But Smiddy was fired by the committee four days later. Smiddy claimed his firing was a violation of the Whistleblower’s Protection Act and demanded he be reinstated to his position, awarded lost wages as well as damages and attorney fees.

When asked for comment, Interim Livingston County Administrator Cindy Catanach declined to reveal terms of the settlement, but did release a statement that said, “This case was settled at the recommendation of our municipal risk management insurer, with no admission of liability.” Requests for comment to Keene and the lawyer representing Smiddy were not returned. (JK)

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