WESTBROOK — City councilors wasted no time Monday night in agreeing to the terms of a legal settlement that will cost Westbrook taxpayers $110,000.

Councilors voted 6-0 to approve the settlement with former Fire Chief Daniel Brock, who lost his job last year. The issue had the potential to generate debate but did not.

Councilors made no comments about the settlement, and when Chairman Brendan Rielly asked for public comment, no one stood up to speak.

The settlement must be presented to the City Council on Aug. 15 for a second vote before it can be adopted.

“We settled this following the guidelines that the council gave us, but no one is happy about it,” said City Administrator Jerre Bryant in an interview before Monday’s meeting.

Bryant said the settlement is the product of a four-hour mediation session on July 14, at which Magistrate Judge Margaret Kravchuk presided. Bryant said the parties agreed to mediation to avoid a trial.

Bryant said Brock agreed in the settlement to dismiss all claims against the city.

The agreement calls for Westbrook to pay Brock $110,000, with the city’s insurance carrier paying an additional $210,000.

Brock, 63, sued the city and Mayor Colleen Hilton last year, after Hilton announced during her inauguration that she wasn’t reappointing Brock as fire chief, a position he had held for a year.

Under the city charter, the fire chief is among several department heads who are subject to annual appointments by the mayor. But another provision in the charter says the fire chief is entitled to employment until death, retirement or removal for cause.

U.S. District Judge D. Brock Hornby ruled in May that Westbrook’s fire chief is not subject to annual appointment.

At the same time, Hornby dismissed the wrongful-termination case against Hilton because she acted on legal advice saying she could choose not to reappoint Brock.

Brock then said he would drop his lawsuit for the equivalent of four years’ salary and benefits — about $330,000.

“This was a compromise between what we thought was reasonable and what he was asking for,” Bryant told The Portland Press Herald last week.

Brock, a former Kennebunkport fire chief, was hired by Westbrook in January 2009 after allegations of sexual harassment in the department led to the punishment of seven firefighters and the retirement of longtime Chief Gary Littlefield.

Two female firefighters who filed lawsuits reached settlements with the city last fall totalling $846,000.

 

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: [email protected]