NEW YORK — A lawyer representing Dallas firefighters and police officers who filed a $1 billion lawsuit against the city on grounds they were cheated out of back pay said on Monday the city declined to enter settlement talks.
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"Hopefully the city will realize that we can put this all to rest if they just come to the table," said Jay Stewart, a lawyer whose firm represents 1,500 of the approximately 4,400 plaintiffs.
Dallas City Attorney Tom Perkins declined to comment on any talks.
The lawsuit dates back to the mid-1990s, when some Dallas firefighters sued the city, arguing that it had not honored a municipal ordinance requiring it to give different ranks the same raises.
The Texas Supreme Court is due to rule on the city's claim of immunity from the suit, which says the city broke a 1979 law that promised them pay differentials.
The court heard oral arguments in December, and typically rulings are issued at least four months after such presentations. The court has no deadline for issuing a final decision.
"It's always been our position that we're not trying to bankrupt the city," said Stewart. "We're asking the city to ... make good on their obligations to their first responders."
Late last week, Stewart amended his suit to include the mayor, city council and city manager of Dallas as defendants, claiming they exceeded their legal authority by failing to comply with the ordinance.
In a statement, Perkins, the city attorney called the amendments "an attempt to keep (the) lawsuits alive regardless of how the Supreme Court may rule on the pending appeals.
"Even if the city were somehow unable to obtain the dismissal of the new claims based on the city's governmental immunity and other jurisdictional grounds, the city remains confident that it will prove at trial that the Dallas voters approved only a one-time pay raise," Perkins said.
The case is City of Dallas v Kenneth E. Albert et al, No. 05-03-01297-CV.
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