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PIEDMONT PUBLIC SERVICE DIST. v. COWART

November 12, 1996

PIEDMONT PUBLIC SERVICE DISTRICT, RESPONDENT,
v.
DOUGLAS W. COWART, PETITIONER.



Appeal From Greenville County Henry F. Floyd, Judge. Affirmed.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Moore, Justice:

This case is before us on a writ of certiorari to review the Court of Appeals' decision*fn1 affirming the circuit court's ruling that petitioner Cowart's employment contract with respondent (District) was not binding on District's successor commissioners. We affirm.

FACTS

On November 1, 1984, District's four commissioners signed a contract with Cowart for him to serve as administrator for a twenty-year period. This employment contract was subsequently modified*fn2 to add a severance clause allowing District to fire Cowart with or without cause only upon five years' notice or the payment of five years' severance pay.

By November 12, 1992, District's entire board of commissioners had changed. The new commissioners voted to terminate Cowart without cause and pay him his annual salary of $37,781.40 for the next five years as required under the severance clause of the employment contract. They made an immediate payment of $30,000. Several weeks later,*fn3 District informed Cowart that the vote to terminate him had been taken in violation of the Freedom of Information Act and was therefore rescinded. ...


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