Indian Wells settles with resident who questioned city hall

Haddon Libby to receive $450,000 after asking about city's generous city leader compensation packages

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. - An Indian Wells resident, Haddon Libby, has reached a settlement with the city of Indian Wells in his civil rights lawsuit against city hall.

Libby will receive $450,000 after he claimed he was fired from his private banking job because city leaders were upset over his questions about their public compensation packages.

In August of 2011, Libby questioned the generous compensation for Indian Wells city council members and former City Manager Greg Johnson.  Libby had heard rumors about city leaders receiving elite rooms at the Eisenhower Medical Center, free golf at the city's golf courses, even free car washes.  He wanted answers.

Libby worked for First Foundation Bank.

Following his complaints at a public meeting, Johnson sent a number of emails to Libby's boss at First Foundation, CEO Scott Kavanaugh, complaining about Libby's "inflammatory and disrespectful behavior" at the city meeting.

Libby was fired from his job at First Foundation Bank just weeks later on September 8th, 2011.  He filed a lawsuit against the bank in October of 2012 and was compensated $375,000.  He then filed a civil rights suit against Indian Wells.

During Libby's civil rights case he commented to News Channel 3, "I believe both myself and the bank were wronged by the illegal actions of (city leaders) Johnson and (Patrick) Mullany and the deafening silence of others on the city council who could have stood up and helped when I was asking them personally but instead chose to, at best, sit silently."

Johnson later apologized and resigned from his $254,000 a year job because of the controversy. 

In a statement issued Monday Indian Wells City Manager Wade McKinney said, "The California Joint Powers Insurance Authority (California JPIA) has announced that a $450,000 settlement was reached in the Haddon Libby civil rights case filed against the City of Indian Wells in April 2012. The California JPIA, a self-insured risk pooling organization for liability claims and lawsuits, represented the City of Indian Wells in the suit; the City is a California JPIA member."

McKinney continued, "the city denies all liability in this case, it did not have any part of the decision of the California JPIA board to settle this lawsuit." "The $450,000 settlement, along with the associated defense costs will result in an increase in Indian Wells' annual contribution to the California JPIA of $57,500 for the next four years or a total of $230,000. The remainder of the settlement funds, roughly $370,000, will be paid jointly by the various other members of the California JPIA, all of whom operate solely with public funds."

The city and Libby have agreed to pay their own attorney fees and costs.

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