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Lawsuits still swirling around Harmar township official

| Monday, Jan. 16, 2012

Supervisor Bob Exler's lawsuit against the township water authority shows no sign of ending soon as the opposing legal teams are still in the process of sharing information.

"It's in discovery," said Stephen M. Farino, the attorney representing Exler. He couldn't suggest how long it might take for the case to play out.

Exler sued the authority in 2010, claiming breach of contract and wrongful termination after the authority board fired him without explanation on Jan.19. He's seeking in excess of $25,000 on each claim.

It was common knowledge prior to Exler's firing that authority board members planned to sever his contract. Exler predicted the move. He and a former board member said his firing was the result of a political vendetta.

In his lawsuit, Exler claims a potential impetus for his firing was his decision to run for supervisor.

A former Allegheny Valley School Board member, Exler ran for supervisor in 2009 but lost in the primary. He won election last year on his second attempt at the office.

He deferred comment to Farino.

Exler claims he signed overlapping contracts with the authority -- one running from Jan. 1, 2009, through Dec. 31, 2010, and the other from Jan. 1, 2010, through Dec. 31, 2012. Both contained the same severance package that would pay him $500 per week for a year.

Asked which contract was in effect, Farino said, "We're currently trying to sort that out."

Exler is seeking the $26,000 he believes he's due in severance.

The authority, represented by attorney Suzanne B. Merrick, is seeking to have the breach-of- contract claim dismissed. The authority argues both contracts were invalid and unenforceable because the authority didn't have the power to create a contract preventing it from "summarily dismissing an employee" or offering a severance agreement.

In the wrongful-termination claim, Exler argues he was fired without good reason. His suit says his firing was "intended to punish the plaintiff for having pursued political office."

He is seeking $54,000, which he argues is the salary he's due.

Merrick couldn't be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

Slander lawsuit

Harmar police Capt. Rick Toney's lawsuit against township Supervisor Bob Exler also continues to play out. The case is pending while depositions are taken, according to the attorneys on both sides.

Toney filed his lawsuit in June, alleging his reputation and earning potential were damaged by false and malicious statements made by Exler during the May primary campaign.

Four people signed affidavits claiming Exler accused Toney of being in cahoots with drug dealers and generally corrupt. Toney's lawsuit alleges a campaign flier circulated by Exler attacked Toney's character.

Exler's attorney, Stephen M. Farino, said he hopes at least one of the people who signed an affidavit supporting Toney's claim will make a statement in court saying Toney forced that person to sign an affidavit.

While Farino didn't name the individual, court records show Regis Zlacki was scheduled to appear for a deposition at Exler's request.

Zlacki, one of the four who signed an affidavit for Toney, couldn't be reached for comment.

Toney's attorney, Walter Nalducci, said that Zlacki's deposition twice was canceled and that Zlacki's only official statement is the one he offered in the affidavit.

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