Former Florida university chancellor sues for breach of contract

A former college official is suing the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg and its president, contending they breached a contractual agreement concerning her resignation.

The dispute between the woman and university started in September 2017 as Hurricane Irma approached the area, and the two sides have very different ideas about events that took place at that time.

According to the lawsuit filed by the former chancellor, the woman “competently fulfilled her role as the Regional Chancellor for USFSP. Even after the plaintiff evacuated the state, she retained her presence through phones and emails until the storm weakened,” the lawsuit said. “Due to Plaintiff’s competency and leadership during the storm, all students remained safe and USFSP suffered no damages.”

The university’s story differs.

Instead, a draft termination letter included with the lawsuit contends the woman failed to do her job as instructed and put students at risk.

The letter said the woman was told by the office of the president to close and evacuate the campus dormitories but didn’t immediately. Instead, she sought a written legal ruling that she could do so. Additionally, according to the letter, the campus official herself left Florida without leaving a clear chain of command or letting the president know she was leaving.

While the chancellor disagreed with the termination letter, she said in her lawsuit that she resigned so that, in part, she wouldn’t get a bad name – but that’s just what she contends happened.

The plaintiff said in her lawsuit that the president released a draft of the termination letter to the area’s major newspaper, after the two sides signed a resignation agreement that stipulated neither would make derogatory statements about the other.

The former chancellor said in the lawsuit that she was harmed financially and emotionally.

The lawsuit, filed in Hillsborough County Circuit Court, is seeking punitive and compensatory damages.

This will be an interesting breach of contract case to follow as it makes its way through the courts.


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