Town of Landis, former manager Roger Hosey reach settlement agreement

Published 12:10 am Thursday, November 4, 2021

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

LANDIS — The town and former Manager Roger Hosey have reached a settlement in a lawsuit Hosey filed against the town.

Town aldermen gathered for a closed session meeting Tuesday night to discuss the settlement and accompanying budget amendment that will resolve Hosey’s lawsuit regarding his contract. However, Town Manager Diane Seaford told the Post Wednesday that the settlement has not yet been signed by all parties involved and will be released once finalized.

Robin Davis of the Jackson Lewis law firm in Raleigh is representing the city in the case.

Ellis Hankins, a Chapel Hill attorney who represents Hosey in the case, told the Post all he can say at this time is, “The parties have agreed to resolve their contractual dispute in the lawsuit.” Hankins said he instructed Hosey not to speak directly with media. After his firing, Hosey claimed the town owed him $450,000, which included two months of salary for every year of his 13 years of service with the town.

Seaford recited the same statement as Hankins, adding it’s all the town is legally able to say.

Hosey, who was elevated from police officer to town manager in the aftermath of a state embezzlement probe, was fired by aldermen in January 2020 — five months after taking the position. He was named town manager by a board with multiple members who didn’t seek re-election amid the embezzlement investigation. He was fired by the new majority elected in November 2019. The outgoing board in December 2019 amended Hosey’s contract before he was fired.

Mayor Meredith Smith along with board members Katie Sells and Ashley Stewart cast the deciding votes in the 3-2 decision to fire Hosey and cited “just cause” as the reason.

Hosey then filed a lawsuit against the town seeking monetary damages for a breached contract, accusing Smith of slander for statements he was terminated due to “just cause” and that his due process was violated. The complaint named the town of Landis as a defendant as well as with Smith, Stewart and Sells in their official and individual capacities. The complaint also named aldermen Darrell Overcash and Tony Corriher, who voted against terminating Hosey’s employment, as defendants in their official capacities only. The suit added that neither are responsible for any of the acts asserted in the complaint.

In March, Judge Loretta C. Biggs of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina dismissed all claims brought against Smith, Stewart, Sells, Corriher and Overcash in their official capacity, along with Hosey’s claim that his due process was violated by Smith, Stewart and Sells personally. The order officially dismissed Stewart, Sells, Corriher and Overcash as parties in the lawsuit, leaving only Hosey’s contention over the “just cause” clause in his contract as the remaining dispute.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.