A $16 million lawsuit filed by Purcellville Police Chief Cynthia McAlister against the Town of Purcellville has been settled out of court, according to McAlister's attorney, Jacqueline Kramer of Westlake Legal Group in Sterling.
The five-count lawsuit was filed on July 22, 2019, and named the Town of Purcellville, former town manager Alex Vanegas and several key players involved in an alleged scheme to oust McAlister from her post in 2017.
Prior to the settlement, Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge Douglas Fleming Jr. dismissed the case at the request of McAlister on Jan. 3.
Additionally, two parties named in the lawsuit – Paul Kakol and Robert Wagner – were removed before it was dismissed, which Kramer said was part of the resolution of the case. Both Kakol and Wagner are current town employees.
“The case has been finalized and resolved to all parties' satisfaction,” Kramer told the Times-Mirror.
She was not able to disclose monetary terms of the settlement due to a confidentiality clause.
Purcellville Town Manager David Mekarski said the case has been "resolved amicably between parties."
“As town manager I was pleased with McAlister's professionalism throughout the entire course of this process. The department is strong, and we continue to work through finding a new permanent location for our police headquarters,” he said.
Mekarski said McAlister will remain in her post as police chief following the settlement.
In 2017, McAlister was fired from the town and then re-instated after an investigation into her management led by Vanegas and a human resources investigator he hired, Georgia Nuckolls, was debunked in a review by the law firm Wilson Elser.
McAlister's lawsuit named the defendants as: Vanegas, individually and officially; Nuckolls, individually; Corporation of Purcellville; Joseph Schroeck, individually and officially; Clark McDaniel, individually and officially; Kakol, individually and officially; Susan Elassal, individually and officially; Wagner, individually and officially; and Ryan Vasconi, individually and officially.
Schroeck, McDaniel, Kakol, Elassal, Wagner and Vasconi were Purcellville Police Department officers in 2017.
The suit listed five counts: tortious interference with contract/business expectancy (plaintiff versus all parties); civil conspiracy (plaintiff versus all defendants); gross negligence (plaintiff versus all defendants); statutory business conspiracy pursuant to Virginia Code 18.2-499 and 18.2-500 (plaintiff versus all defendants); and breach of contract/breach of fiduciary duty (plaintiff versus Purcellville).
In addition to the McAlister case, the town is negotiating settlement for a $17 million lawsuit filed by former Purcellville police officer Kristopher Fraley, which was filed on Sept. 19, 2019, in Loudoun County Circuit Court. The case has been moved to the U.S. Eastern District Court of Virginia at the request of both parties.
Fraley recently left his position with the Purcellville Police Department to pursue other opportunities.
Mekarksi said the town has scheduled a mediation session with Fraley for Jan. 17.
“I hope we will be able to reach an equitable settlement out of court,” Mekarski said.
The town manager confirmed another town employee who had threatened a lawsuit as a result of the McAlister investigation has also settled with the town, although Mekarksi could not provide any specific details.