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Former City Clerk Sues Panama City Beach

Panama City Beach City Government

Panama City Beach is facing another whistleblower lawsuit. One day after council members unanimously voted to fire the city clerk, Mary Jan Bossert, she filed a legal complaint, alleging her poor performance reviews and ultimate termination were "retaliation" for doing her job. 



UnderFlorida's whistleblower statutes, a public employee cannot be fired for notifying their supervisor of suspected illegal acts. 

Bossert’s lawsuit claims her termination came four days after she submitted a written statement to council members, who serve as her boss, questioning the legality of an elected city official’s alleged interference with a public records request sought by a local talk show host. 

Her statement was prompted by poor performance reviews she received in January from all five council members.  Bossert says she believes her below-average evaluations resulted from her fulfillment of the records request last November.  

Her suit seeks $30,000 in damages, in addition to compensation for legal fees. 

This is the second whistleblower lawsuit against Panama City Beach filed by a former city clerk. In 2018, Diane Floyd also sued the city for allegedly pressuring her to resign after she questioned the legality of city officials’ stated efforts to deny public records to the same local talk show host. That litigation is ongoing. 

City officials declined a request for comment regarding the pending litigation. When pressed for a response to the allegations Bossert made at the public meeting in which she was fired, the city issued a statement denying any wrongdoing, claiming her firing resulted from "inadequate job performance." 

Following the city's statement, this reporter received another email on Monday afternoon from the city's public information officer, indicating that no one in City Hall had seen the lawsuit, adding that they were "not sure" if one "has been filed at all." The legal complaint, which was filed on Friday night, was posted on the Bay County Clerk of Court’s website on Monday morning. 

Valerie Crowder is a freelance journalist based in Tallahassee, Fl. She's the former ATC host/government reporter for WFSU News. Her reporting on local government and politics has received state and regional award recognition. She has also contributed stories to NPR newscasts.