Pelham lawsuit hearing pushed back

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

A hearing originally scheduled for July 11 in a lawsuit filed against several Pelham officials has been rescheduled until July 31, and a trial date has yet to be set, Shelby County Court officials said.

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.

A hearing in the case originally was set for July 11, but was tentatively pushed back until July 31 at 9 a.m. in front of Shelby County Circuit Court Judge Hewitt “Sonny” Conwill, according to court records.

Pelham City Attorney Butch Ellis previously said the July 11 hearing likely would be rescheduled to give both parties more time to prepare and collect information.

Morse said a definite trial date has not yet been set.

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.