P.A. settles lawsuits, pays out $400,000

Written by Emily Bell on . Posted in Local

As of Oct. 1, the city of Port Allen paid $400,000 to settle three employment-related cases against the city and former mayors of the city.

Four out of the five city council members voted in favor of the settlements on Sept. 11.

Mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter said that the Louisiana Municipal Association’s Risk Management Agency reimbursed the city for $200,350 of the settlements on Sept. 26.

However, Slaughter expressed concern that the $400,000 was not included in an amended 2013-2014 budget adopted on Oct. 23 by a 3-2 vote of the city council.

On Sept. 11, council members Ray Helen Lawrence, Brandon Brown, R.J. Loupe and Hugh Riviere voted in favor of the settlements. Council member Garry Hubble voted in opposition.

The cases the council agreed to settle were: Philip Mason v. City of Port Allen, Roger Bergeron and R.J. Loupe; Cenceria Dalcourt v. City of Port Allen and Roger Bergeron; and Tremelle Neldare and Dominic Stovall v. Town of Port Allen.

A breakdown of the $400,000 includes:

-A $10,000 check to Mason and a $152,500 check to Mason and his attorney, Robert L. Campbell.

-A $10,000 check to Dalcourt and a $157,500 check to Dalcourt and her attorney, also Campbell.

-$50,000 to Neldare and Stovall, in addition to $5,000 for their attorney’s fees and any additional money needed to cover their court costs.

The city employed four attorneys from Kean Miller LLP for Mason’s case and Dalcourt’s case. Attorneys A. Edward Hardin Jr., Erin Lutkewitte Kilgore, Michael Jason DeBarros and Scott D. Huffstetler represented both the city and the former mayors sued in each case.

Mason sued the city and former mayors Roger Bergeron and R.J. Loupe, both individually and in their official capacities, in U.S. District Court, Middle District of Louisiana. Dalcourt sued the city and former mayor Bergeron, both individually and in his official capacity, also in U.S. District Court, Middle District of Louisiana.

Mason and Dalcourt, who were both terminated by former mayors, alleged civil rights violations and employment discrimination. They also mentioned former mayor Derek Lewis in their cases, alleging sexual harassment.

The settlement documents state that Mason and Dalcourt are dropping all of their claims against the city and former mayors.

The city also employed three attorneys from Kean Miller LLP for Neldare and Stovall’s case – attorneys Kilgore, Huffstetler and Bradley C. Myers.

Stovall was a police officer for the city who was terminated on Oct. 26, 2009. Neldare and Stovall filed a ‘petition for damages’ with the 18th Judicial District Court in West Baton Rouge Parish on Aug. 17, 2010, according to court records.

However, the court is missing the original petition that was filed.

Per settlement terms, the city reinstated Stovall effective Oct. 26, 2009 and Stovall resigned effective Oct. 26, 2009; Stovall’s personnel file will reflect the resignation, not the termination.

Furthermore, Neldare and Stovall may receive a “neutral reference” from the city for future employers, but that reference will only include the dates of employment and positions held, according to a settlement letter.

The settlement stipulates that Neldare and Stovall are no longer entitled to reinstatement of their positions and that they agree to drop all of their claims against the city, including Neldare’s claims of age discrimination. They cannot bring further action against the city.

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