Firefighters ask court to uphold proposed lawsuit settlementPublished 12:37pm Monday, December 2, 2013
By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor
A group of current and former Pelham firefighters who filed a lawsuit against the city in 2010 are asking a judge to uphold a proposed agreement to settle the suit, according to a motion filed in U.S. District Court on Dec. 2.
The lawsuit, which since has become a class-action suit, was filed against Pelham in May 2010, and claimed Pelham violated the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and the Pelham civil service law by allegedly not properly compensating the firefighters for overtime worked.
The original lawsuit was filed by current firefighters Kenneth Camp, Todd McCarver, Patrick Smith and Stephen Kiel and retired firefighter Randall Bearden.
The Pelham City Council’s Nov. 4 meeting agenda originally included a resolution to reject a proposed memorandum of understanding to settle the lawsuit, but the item was removed from the agenda before the meeting and has not yet been voted on.
On Dec. 2, Pelham City Attorney Butch Ellis said the lawsuit has not yet been settled, but said he could not comment any further on the pending litigation.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate to comment about the mediation and the efforts to resolve the lawsuit,” Ellis said in a telephone interview.
According to the Dec. 2 court motion, which was filed by Birmingham attorney Inge Johnstone on behalf of the plaintiffs, the memorandum of understanding was drafted after “over 25 hours of mediation” between the plaintiffs and Pelham Mayor Gary Waters, city attorneys and Pelham Fire Chief Danny Ray in August and October.
If passed, the memorandum of understanding to settle the lawsuit would require Pelham to pay $610,000 in back pay, damages, costs and attorney’s fees and would require the city to set accrual rates for Fire Department sick and vacation leave “at 1.325 times the accrual rate of an eight-hour employee.”
The motion filed on Dec. 2 claimed the city negotiated the memorandum of understanding “in bad faith, knowing that the mayor and the city’s lawyers did not have the authority to agree to a settlement on behalf of the city, and had no idea whether the terms they agreed to would be approved or not.”
The motion asks the federal court to “enforce the settlement or to reimburse (the plaintiffs) for the legal fees and expenses caused by attempt to go back on the settlement agreement,” Johnstone wrote in a press release.
On Dec. 2, Pelham City Council President Rick Hayes said he was unable to comment on the pending litigation.