City Pursues $45,000 In Legal Fees From Police Association

CHANDLER, AZ &#8211 Chandler is seeking nearly $45,000 in legal fees after a judge dismissed a claim filed against the city by a group of police officers.

Members of the Chandler Law Enforcement Association filed suit against the city in July, claiming the city did not pay officers all they were owed from a “reverse fiscal-crisis payment.”

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Lisa Daniel Flores in January dismissed the complaint “for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted,” according to court documents.

The members of the police association failed to go through mandatory grievance procedures before filing the lawsuit, according to the judge’s ruling.

“State law does not provide a specific method of review of this issue,” according to the judge’s decision.

Another part of the claim by the officers “fails as a legal matter” because it claimed a broken unwritten contract, though there was an express contract between the city and association members, according to the ruling.

“We’re glad the court agreed with our arguments,” Chandler City Attorney Kay Bigelow said.

Neither members of the association nor their attorneys wanted to comment on the case, said Carole Bartholomeaux, a public-relations consultant for the police association.

The lawsuit stemmed from a one-time payment promised to members of the association. A group of sergeants and a group of lieutenants each filed similar lawsuits against the city involving this one-time payment.

The city and police employees agreed that association members would receive a payment if the city’s actual revenue in fiscal 2011-12 came in higher than projected.

Chandler Law Enforcement Association members received about $9,500. The lawsuit claimed that the city should have paid about $1,000 more per officer.

Chandler filed a motion Jan. 30 asking that it be repaid attorney fees.

It might take a few months before a decision on that request is reached, Bigelow said.

The other two cases are still moving through the courts and are assigned to different judges.

Chandler Lieutenants and Sergeants Association members were paid about $12,275 but should have received about $1,300 more, according to their claims.

Oral arguments for this case are scheduled for Friday, March 14.

“Chandler certainly believes that a similar issue is present in the sergeants’ union case and we made similar arguments so we very much believe that we’re citing the correct law and the law that could be applied in the sergeants’ complaint, also,” Bigelow said.

The association is “certainly hoping for a different outcome” than in the dismissed officers’ case, said Sgt. Tom Lovejoy, president of the Chandler Lieutenants and Sergeants Association.

The lieutenants claimed that they were entitled to a reverse fiscal-crisis payment of about $15,565 but were not paid, according to court documents.

Lieutenants are not a part of the association but voted to receive the same benefits as those the sergeants association had negotiated, according to court documents.

Attorneys for the city responded that the payment was not owed to the lieutenants and that they instead received “alternative wage and compensation benefits,” according to court documents.

From The Arizona Republic

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