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Judge denies city’s request; wrongful termination settlement finalized

A superior court judge on Wednesday denied a city request to legally seal statements by former Salisbury Police Chief Rory Collins.

Judge Robert C Ervin didn’t offer specific comments about a reason for his denial. His order only says he considered aspects of the case and denied the city’s request. The order will allow attorneys for former Salisbury police officer Kenny Lane and the City of Salisbury to finalize a $70,000 settlement deal.

Ervin’s order comes after a wrongful termination suit by Lane. The deposition came into question because it contained information about family matters and Collins’ use of prescription drugs for a medical issue.

During a court hearing on Monday, Ervin questioned whether he’d be able to seal the deposition and issue a protective order. The order never was entered into the official court record. Lane voluntarily sent the deposition to a blog site. Some members of the City Council said they were unaware an attorney for the city wanted to seal the deposition.

City documents contained in the deposition state Lane’s employment with the police department was terminated for insubordination, a lack of truthfulness and a violation of policies. His termination occurred while Doug Paris was still city manager.

A judge won’t decide whether Lane was wrongfully terminated. Instead, the city has agreed to a settlement.

Local attorney David Shelby, Lane’s attorney, said the settlement deal includes the payment of $70,000 and an amendment to Lane’s termination. Specifically, Shelby said Lane’s termination would be changed to a resignation. Lane’s separation information with the Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission will also be changed to a resignation.

Shelby said settlements never contain everything a party wants, but Lane’s agreement was a reasonable resolution because it changes the termination to a resignation.

“As noted in Mr. Collins’ deposition, what the city did effectively ended Mr. Lane’s law enforcement career,” Shelby said. “The settlement of this claim under these circumstances now allows Mr. Lane the opportunity to resume that career if he chooses to.”

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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