Pelham moves to settle lawsuit against city

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The Pelham City Council voted unanimously during its Jan 8 meeting to authorize Mayor Gary Waters to settle a lawsuit brought against the city in early 2012 by a member of the Pelham Personnel Board and several city employees.

Birmingham attorney Wayne Morse Jr., filed the lawsuit 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 named former Pelham Mayor Don Murphy, City Clerk and Finance Director Tom Seale, former Human Resources Director Jerry Nolen and former Marketing Manager Eva Shepherd as defendants.

The suit claimed former Pelham City Councilman Mike Dickens’ 2011 appointment as the city’s municipal court administrator was “invalid under Alabama law.” The suit also claimed, among other things, the city allegedly took city employee actions contrary to the city’s Personnel Board Act.

Waters said the settlement marked the end of eight weeks of negotiations, and said all plaintiffs named in the lawsuit agreed to sign a waiver dismissing the case in exchange for a cash settlement.

City Council President Rick Hayes said the settlement will cost the city “no more than $101,000 plus some payroll taxes.”

“Do I feel that’s a good deal? Absolutely,” Waters said, noting the pending lawsuit was “disruptive” to the city’s workforce. “We are mandated by state law to follow those (civil service law) provisions.”

Hayes said the city must sign some paperwork finalizing the settlement by Feb. 1.

“It is now behind us,” Hayes said, noting the settlement was “a very reasonable resolution that everyone agreed to.”