Former Scott City administrator Ron Eskew receives $40,000 settlement, ending legal battle

Thursday, March 21, 2019

SCOTT CITY, Mo. — Former Scott City administrator Ron Eskew, who took the city and former Mayor Ron Cummins to court over his forced resignation, received a $40,000 settlement in exchange for dropping his lawsuit.

The Southeast Missourian obtained a copy of the six-page agreement from the city after filing a Sunshine Law request.

Eskew served as city administrator for 16 years before resigning in March 2017.

In July 2018, Eskew filed a civil suit, alleging he lost his job last year after he sought to prevent city officials from firing the parks director at the time.

He contended the defendants violated the Missouri Human Rights Act. The suit sought damages of more than $25,000 against each defendant.

The case, moved from Scott County to Pemiscot County Circuit Court earlier this year, was dismissed last week as a result of the settlement.

Under the agreement, the parties are barred from commenting on the settlement.

But Cummins said he had not signed the document. He said he first saw the written settlement agreement when it was emailed to him by the Southeast Missourian on Wednesday.

Al Spradling III, a Cape Girardeau attorney who represented the city and Cummins, said Cummins “was informed we settled it.”

The city agreed to settle the claim, with the payment coming from the Missouri Public Entity Risk Management Fund, Spradling said. The state-created entity provides insurance coverage for Missouri’s local governments.

“Ron Cummins isn’t paying anything,” Spradling said.

The settlement agreement was drafted by Eskew’s attorney, Spradling said.

The document stipulates “all parties agree to refrain from making defamatory, derogatory or disparaging statements” in connection with the case.

It also states the agreement is not evidence of “any liability or unlawful conduct of any kind.”

Eskew served as city administrator from December 2001 until March 13, 2017.

Cummins was elected mayor in April 2016. Shortly after, Cummins “expressed his desire to fire” then-parks director Phyllis Spinks “because of her gender, age and length of service” with the city, the lawsuit states.

Spinks filed a lawsuit against Cummins and the city last December, alleging her termination Nov. 30, 2016, amounted to “employment discrimination.” Her case is pending in Pemiscot County Circuit Court.

Both Spinks and Eskew are represented by Cape Girardeau attorneys John “J.P.” and Laura Clubb.

In Eskew’s lawsuit, the Clubbs wrote that their client “repeatedly counseled defendants against taking any unlawful action against Ms. Spinks.”

According to the suit, “Defendants defamed Mr. Eskew both before and after terminating his employment by spreading lies about his tenure as city administrator.”

Cummins resigned as mayor in August 2017 after state Rep. Holly Rehder called for an investigation into allegations he abused his position.

But in a deposition taken in the Eskew case, Norman Brant said while serving as a councilman he orchestrated Eskew’s resignation without the knowledge of Cummins.

Brant testified in the deposition he asked Eskew to resign because he believed Eskew had engaged in “misconduct” centered on personal use of city computers and a mower, as well as improper use of city credit cards.

Eskew testified in his deposition Brant displayed a packet of information and threatened to give it to the prosecuting attorney unless he resigned.

The information in the packet was not disclosed, according to Eskew’s testimony.

“I was only told ... if I signed the letter the packet would go away,” Eskew said.

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