former court clerk for the City of Parkville has filed a lawsuit against the city and its municipal judge, claiming she was wrongfully terminated.
Jennifer Ozias, 35, of Kansas City in Platte County, filed the lawsuit last week. She had worked as a clerk in Parkville Municipal Court under Judge Sandra Ferguson from November of 2004 until April of 2009.
A docket call on the case is scheduled for July 18 at 9 a.m. in the courtroom of Judge Lee Hull.
The petition alleges wrongful termination against the judge and against the city, as well as defamation, and demands a jury trial.
Ozias’ duties included scheduling, planning, and coordinating court-related activities. Her suit claims that she reported to city officials “numerous wrongful acts” by Judge Ferguson that “were in direct violation of city ordinances, policies, procedures, and Missouri statutes.”
Ozias alleges that Ferguson converted city property (a desk, book case, filing cabinet are mentioned) to her own property without payment or for payment far below market value. Her suit also accuses Ferguson of “misappropriating and usurping public funds with respect to travel expenditures.”
Ozias’ suit says she reported such alleged violations “so as to make it clear to city officials that she was not endorsing or complicit in Judge Ferguson’s wrongdoing.”
The petition alleges that within months of reporting the acts to city officials, Ferguson threatened her with termination and “forced” her to resign by signing a written letter of resignation that had been prepared by the judge. Ozias claims she had never received any warnings or complaints about her job performance. She alleges the city and the judge “intentionally and recklessly made false statements” about her and her termination. According to the petition, in her termination paperwork, the defendants allege that Ozias was terminated for insubordination and breach of security. Ozias claims she was informed she was being terminated for insubordination and breach of security in front of the city administrator and the assistant city administrator.
“Statements made and published in documents and in front of city officials and coworkers that plaintiff was being terminated for insubordination and breach of security were false and made in bad faith with reckless disregard for the truth because plaintiff was ultimately being terminated for reporting illegal conduct and public policy violations committed by Judge Ferguson,” the petition alleges.
Conduct by the city and the judge “was extreme and outrageous, as it constituted a clear attempt to thwart, subvert, and suppress clear public policy that encourages employees to report illegal activity, public policy violations and other instances of wrongdoing,” Ozias’ suit alleges.
Reached by phone Wednesday morning, Ferguson told The Landmark that she denies the allegations. Beyond that, she said she would have no further comment.