Both Sides of the City of Dallas's "Billion-Dollar Lawsuit" State Their Case

No doubt you'll hear plenty more about the city's billion-dollar lawsuit between now and the spring or summer of 2010, when the Supreme Court of Texas rules on whether the city is immune from rescue workers' claims stemming from a 1979 referendum concerning pay raises and two subsequent lawsuits now before the court. For now, these updates: The Dallas Business Journal this morning ran this interview with the attorneys for the city and those repping the plaintiffs; a summary for those keeping score:

Lee Parsley, an Austin attorney representing the plaintiffs, said things worked according to the ordinance initially, but over time, the pay increases of the department's top command were not in proportion to the pay of front line officers and firefighters. This discrepancy led to the filing of the 1994 case, which has been delayed with the addition of new appeals and legal issues.

Tom Perkins, a city attorney for Dallas, told the DBJ the pay increase promised by voters back in 1979 was a one-time, 15 percent-pay increase, and the city fully complied with the referendum. He said the ordinance does not apply for the time period indicated in the lawsuits.

"It is incumbent upon us as attorneys for the city to fight at every point to make sure we do not pay more than what is required under the ordinance," Perkins said. "We have fully complied with what the city was obligated to do under the referendum."

Also, at the end of last week, something called the Texas News Post out of Austin interviewed both Parsley and Dalas firefighter Joe Betzel, one of the original plaintiffs. That video follows.

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