Firefighting, Legal

Judge Sets Deadline for New Orleans Firefighter Payments

Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the New Orleans City Council have until Aug. 21 to begin paying firefighters a judgment worth a potential $142 million, or they will be held in contempt, reports nola.com.

The council is scheduled to meet the day before the deadline, Judge Kern Reese said. “If there is going to be any resolution, it needs to be presented at the meeting and resolved once and for all, or I will make a contempt finding,” he told Landrieu’s Chief Administrative Officer Andy Kopplin.

Reese turned his back on the courtroom to scribble with his index finger across the stone panel behind him.

“You got me, Mr. Kopplin? You know what that means?” Reese said. “The handwriting is on the wall.”

The judgement stems from a lawsuit that his been meandering its way, in one form or another, through the courts since as far back as 1979. It’s been on Reese’s docket since 2004.

The crux of the latest version of the suit is the city’s failure to institute state-mandated pay raises for firefighters over a decade and a half, starting in the mid-1990s. Finally, after repeated losses in court, the city in 2013 agreed to pay a $75 million judgment. With interest, calculated from when the lawsuit was first filed, the city owes a total of $142 million, roughly a quarter of the city’s operating budget.

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