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No court date set for lawsuit against Pelham officials

Published 2:54pm Tuesday, October 30, 2012

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Attorneys on both sides are still working to collect information before moving forward with a lawsuit filed in early 2012 against several Pelham officials, and a court date has not yet been set for the suit.

Birmingham attorney Wayne Morse Jr., filed the lawsuit in early 2012 on behalf of Pelham city employees Carolyn Mitchell, Tammy Tankersley, Mary Gray, Judy Walters, Allison Miller, Connie Buse, Randy White, Justin Martin, Dale Bailey, James Coggeshall, David McCall, Cynthia McCall, Pelham Personnel Board member Jim Collins and former personnel board member James Burks.

The lawsuit names Pelham Mayor Don Murphy, City Clerk and Finance Director Tom Seale, Human Resources Director Jerry Nolen and Marketing Manager Eva Shepherd as defendants.

According to court documents, nothing has been filed in the case since July 31. On July 31, Morse filed an amended complaint outlining claims against the defendants.

Morse and Pelham City Attorney Butch Ellis said they are still working through the “preparatory stages” before the case moves forward in Shelby County Civil Court.

“We are still conducting discovery. We are in the exploratory stages right now,” Ellis said. “Once we collect all the information, everything will be up for review before we move forward.”

“We are still talking at this point,” Morse said. “There has been no ruling on what we submitted in July, and we are still conducting discovery.”

The suit claims former Pelham City Councilman Mike Dickens’ appointment as the city’s municipal court administrator was “invalid under Alabama law.” The suit also claims, among other things, the city allegedly took city employee actions contrary to the city’s Personnel Board Act.

On Dec. 30, 2011, Dickens resigned his seat on the Pelham City Council to become the city’s municipal court administrator. The move came about a month after Dickens resigned from his position as council president.

The amended lawsuit also claims the city allegedly sought to “circumvent the competitive bid law” when purchasing dining room chairs by breaking down the cost of the chairs into multiple purchase orders.

  • David Ladewig

    This lawsuit is about 64 pages long. After reading it, I am not sure it was ever intended to be heard in a courtroom. Moving the furniture, employee spying, and a host of other things makes this looks like a political filing used to gain influence or office or both. The new mayor, Gary Waters, and his staff will have to defend the suit if it is to continue. The paragraph about Mr. Dicken’s hire was added after the first filing. Mr. Waters had a page on his election website that quoted Alabama Code Section 11-43B-6 as his basis for filing the ethics complaint he filed before the election against Mr. Dickens. That law doesn’t appy to Pelham due to city class size as I am advised by counsel. The rest of the suit appears to be sophomoric in content and should be thrown out as frivolous. The people in the background who were pulling the strings won the election or are back in control, and it seems past time to move on.

    • pantherlover

      “as I was advised by Counsel”

      How was a former member of the park board involved in anything to do with this lawsuit? Knowing your source was likely Bill Meadows, your information is suspect at best.

      You are somewhat correct in your post though. The new administration will abide by all laws, so I’m sure they’ll want to move on from this and act in such a way in the future to avoid future lawsuits and needless costs to taxpayers to defend them. November 5 will be a great day for all law abiding citizens.

      • David Ladewig

        If the anonymous poster wishes to learn about the suit, he/she should read it. The plaintiff lawyer asking for more discovery time gives it away. The people behind this suit are easily identified. When the public depositions start, if they ever start, the questions will make for a new reality gong show.

        1. “Mrs. Felonyice, Can you show us how the furniture was moved and how it affected your mental state?”

        2. Mr. Rakeitup, Did you remember to flush when you went to the ballpark bathrooms during work?” “Did you wash?”

        My guess, is the suit vanishes in 30 days. Just for the edification of the anonymous poster, any citizen can read the legal ramblings filed in the courts. The citizen may also ask questions of experts, and draw conclusion. I conclude………whatever it is, it is!

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