DALLAS (CBS11) – Sam Friar says he’s relieved the City of Dallas has tentatively agreed to settle four of six lawsuits by 1,700 police officers and firefighters involving back pay.
“I’m somewhat surprised, but pleased that this happened,” said Friar.
If approved by city council members Tuesday, the city will pay nearly $61.7 million, ending this legal dispute covering most of Friar’s 33 years as a firefighter.
Friar is a plaintiff in one of the four lawsuits.
While most of the plaintiff police officers and firefighters in these lawsuits want to settle, all of the plaintiffs must agree to the terms.
“It’s been about 25 years or so, yes. Frankly, I never thought it’d come to this,” said Friar. “The city was kicking the can down the road for years.”
He said it’s not about the money, but about the stability of the pension fund.
Mayor Mike Rawlings is pleased as well.
“I think this is great news for the city of Dallas and the citizens of Dallas,” said Mayor Rawlings.
The city says the money to pay for it will come from a bond that will be issued after the city council votes.
This is different than the 2017 bond approved by voters last week, and this new bond the council is considering, does not need voter approval.
The city still faces two lawsuits involving back pay by 8,600 police officers and firefighters.
“We feel the City of Dallas did nothing wrong,” said Mayor Rawlings.
The attorney representing plaintiffs in the remaining cases, Ted Lyon disagrees. “I think the Mayor is wrong with all due respect.”
Both sides disagree over whether a voter referendum in 1979 concluded the city must continuously give the same level of pay raises to the different ranks in the police and fire departments.
Lyon points to a city resolution from 1988 saying the raises “shall be maintained from and after January 20, 1979.”
“I don’t know how they can deny the truth of the words written on paper by a number of assistant city managers, finance people, and even top level city attorneys, so I don’t see how they can win that,” said Lyon.
Lyon said his clients are still owed $2 billion in back pay.
The city has asked the State Supreme Court to throw out the two cases.
Once that court rules, the next legal steps will be determined.