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NM court declines to resolve open meeting issue

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) -- The state's highest court has ruled that Rio Rancho's former city manager can't sue the community for back pay, but the justices declined to decide an open government question in the case.

The Supreme Court said Thursday that James Palenick waived the right to bring a breach of contract claim because he accepted a severance package after his 2006 firing.

Palenick sued the city in 2008, contending that the city council had violated the Open Meetings Act when it voted to terminate him.

Palenick sought back pay from his firing until 2007, when the city council voted again to terminate him.

In resolving the employment dispute, the court said it didn't need to decide whether governments can retroactively ratify an action taken in violation of the Open Meetings Act.