No court date set for lawsuit against Pelham officials

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.