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September 4, 2013

Former town manager sues Princeville, mayor

PRINCEVILLE — PRINCEVILLE — Former town manager Victor Marrow has filed a lawsuit in Edgecombe County Superior Court against the Town of Princeville and separately against Mayor Priscilla Everette-Oates.

Marrow is suing the town for breach of contract. He is directing wrongful discharge, wrongful interference with contract, slander and unfair and deceptive trade practices against Everette-Oates.

In an email sent to Everette-Oates with a question about the suit, she responded by saying the issue was a legal matter and she referred me to town attorney Ben Brewington III. Brewington did not return an email. In a telephone conversation, Marrow declined to comment.

The latest suits allege the town breached its contract by wrongfully terminating Marrow. The lawsuit states the termination constituted a breach of Marrow's employment agreement and was wrongful in that it was;

• arbitrary and capricious and without cause,

• without 90 days' notice

• without authority, as it was not authorized by the board of commissioners

It also alleges that the town owes Marrow $5,000 severance pay as stated in his contract.

Against Everette-Oates, the lawsuit alleges she wrongfully interfered with the contract and slandered Marrow's name. The lawsuit states Everette-Oates' actions against Marrow were driven by her personal interests and feelings.

In regards to the slander allegations, the lawsuit states that the mayor has intentionally, publicly, and repeatedly made false accusations that Marrow is the cause of some of the legal problems in Princeville. One of them in particular is Everette-Oates being charged by the SBI for 17 counts of embezzlement. The charges stem from an audit report that revealed Everette-Oates charged more than $5,000 on the town's credit card without turning in proper receipts. Everette-Oates has claimed she is innocent. As recently as Aug. 26. she blamed both Marrow and the Local Government Commission for the missing receipts.

In another listing, the suit states Everette-Oates dealt unfair and deceptive trade practices against Marrow. It states the mayor's actions against Marrow were intentional, egregious, malicious, without authorization of the board and beyond her legal authority.

The legal action, which was filed Aug. 26, is the second to be filed against the town in as many months. In July,  former police chief Gary Foxx filed a wrongful termination suit against the town.

Marrow was hired February 2010 on a two-year contract. In the midst of the first year, he turned in his resignation due to an undisclosed disagreement between himself and the mayor. The next day, he rescinded his decision and returned to work.

Marrow's contract expired Feb. 1, 2012, but the town extended it six days because of disagreements between the two parties.

Terms of the new contract were untenable to Marrow and included the stipulation that it was to end on June 12, include a $5,000 pay cut, work in excess of 40 hours per week and write at least three grants per month, according to an article written in The Daily Southerner the week he was terminated. In that story, Marrow said the terms of the proposed contract were unrealistic.

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