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Former CMH Director Files Lawsuit
Tuesday Nov 28, 2017 5:49pm
Centreville, MI

By: Mike Stiles

(CENTREVILLE) – The former Executive Director of Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services of St. Joseph County has filed a lawsuit.

According to St. Joseph County Circuit Court personnel, Elizabeth O'Dell filed the suit November 21 and is seeking compensation for loss of employment and benefits following her firing from the CMH.

In a statement released in August through her attorney Ross E. Chapman, O'Dell says that the termination of her employment was illegal and violated her contract of employment.

O'Dell goes on to say that this wrongful action is the culmination of the St. Joseph County CMH, under the control of the St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners, wastefully spending thousands of dollars in a misguided quest to have her terminated.

The lawsuit states O'Dell is seeking no less than $25,000, plus attorney's fees.

O'Dell has named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit the CMH, The St. Joseph County Commission, St. Joseph County along with current and former CMH Board members Tim Carmichael, Donald Eaton, John Dobberteen, Antony Heiser, Rick Shaffer, Kathy Pangle and Monte Bordner. In addition, current CMH Executive Director and former Board member Kristine Kirsch, retired County Administrator Pat Yoder and current County Commission Chairman Allen Balog (bay-LOG) are also named in the suit.

In August, the CMH Board voted unanimously to have O'Dell removed as the Executive Director. They cited four reasons that included O'Dell directing legal council to perform legal work without the Board's knowledge; holding and participating in meetings that violated the Open Meetings Act; directing the CMH Chief Financial 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 council to third parties.

Chapman released a statement, confirming a lawsuit was filed on November 21, 2017 pertaining to O'Dell's termination. He says O’Dell’s ouster was a violation of her contract and it was illegal, and that her rights will be vindicated in Court.

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