East Ridge Council Balks At Paying Ex-Attorney For Copying 41 Boxes Of Legal Records; Gobble Says He May Hire Anderson

Friday, January 25, 2013

The East Ridge City Council on Thursday balked at paying former City Attorney John Anderson $5,914.33 for copying 41 boxes of legal records.

Council members said they recently learned that the lawyer, who was fired in mid-December when the council majority changed, made the mass copyings at his office just before departing. He had his office staff spend a week copying the mass of documents related to East Ridge lawsuits. Then he shipped them by truck to East Ridge City Hall.

Then he sent the bill to East Ridge taxpayers.

Cost was itemized as $1,822 for copying and the rest for paying his staff overtime on the project.

City Manager Tim Gobble said the mass of material was temporarily stored in a secure area at the city. Hal North, the new city attorney, said he is the recipient of the pile of material.

Meanwhile, Mr. Gobble was quizzed on whether he has retained attorney Anderson to represent him in any matter relating to East Ridge - with the charge to East Ridge taxpayers. Mr. Gobble said he has not at this time.

But he said he may in the future hire the lawyer on a matter such as "involving my performance" because he said attorney Anderson is familiar with the city's government and "he's an excellent attorney." The new council majority has had a prickly relationship with City Manager Gobble, but has yet made no move to fire him.

Councilman Marc Gravitt said, "I don't want the citizens of East Ridge to have to be paying two attorneys. I think we need one voice."

City Manager Gobble said for the time being he is represented by attorney North in a case involving East Ridge in which he was sued. But he said, if there is a conflict, "I may go out and hire a separate attorney." He said he is entitled to do so under his contract with the city.

Vice Mayor Jim Bethune said he counted $204,000 in charges from attorney Anderson for 2012, including $37,000 in severance pay. Then the city got another bill recently for $14,331.74, including the disputed copying charge.

The council passed a motion to pay all of the latest bill except for the copying. Voting in favor were Vice Mayor Bethune and council members Gravitt and Denny Manning. Councilman Larry Sewell abstained and Mayor Brent Lambert voted no.

Attorney North suggested that the city seek arbitration arranged by the Chattanooga Bar Association on the copying charge. He said attorney Anderson could opt to go along with the arbitration or sue the city for the amount.

He said it is normal for attorneys to make copies prior to handing over a case to another lawyer. He said, "It is not normal to charge for the copies."

The remainder of the latest Anderson bill deals with ongoing litigation. Attorney North said under his contract he had a basic retainer and he also was paid per hour for litigation. Attorney North is paid a flat $7,500 per month that covers all charges.

Councilman Gravitt said of the city's legal bills, "We've got several cases, my gosh, that have been dragging on for years - over very trivial matters. Is there any way we can get these off our backs?"

Attorney North said the city of East Ridge is embroiled in 6-8 lawsuits and some of them indeed have been going on for years. He said, "The city does not need to be juggling that many balls," and he said he has been taking steps to try to settle some or all of the pending cases.

One long-running one, he said, involves the Superior Creek Lodge. He said attorney Anderson had lined up 41 potential witnesses in a projected trial of the case in Criminal Court. 

The latest Anderson bill included $4,819 for Superior Creek Lodge litigation.

 

 

 

 


Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: BENTON, CASSIDY C  127 GOODSON AVE APT 10 CHATTANOOGA, 37404  Age at Arrest: 35 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga FAILURE TO APPEAR THEFT UNDER 500 CRIMINAL TRESPASSING --- BLACKMON, SYDNEY CHEYENNE  2033 CENTURY AVENUE CLEVELAND, 37311  Age at Arrest: 20 years old Arresting ... (click for more)

Hamilton, Bradley Schools To Have 2-Hour Delay Wednesday; UTC To Open At 10; Other Closings And Delays

Hamilton County, Cleveland Schools and Bradley County Schools will have two-hour delays on Wednesday morning due to the threat of icy road conditions. UTC will open at 10 a.m. on Wednesday . Classes begin and offices open at 10 a.m . Chattanooga Christian School will have a two-hour delay, beginning at 10 a.m. Catoosa County, Murray County and Whitfield County ... (click for more)

Rick Smith Should Not Be Paid To Leave

Taxpayers of Hamilton County should take note that a majority of the members of the school board are getting ready to give Rick Smith the buyout that he wants.  Do you agree that someone should be paid for taking the coward's way out?  Rick Smith should be fired for cause. Not paid to leave.   If you don't want the board members to pay him off, call or ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Grab The Reaching Hand

Three of Tennessee’s largest four cities are now searching for school superintendents. Jesse Register retired last June and, after botching the first attempt, Nashville city leaders are intensely helping the Board of Education in a search for the best candidate. In Knoxville and Chattanooga the superintendents have resigned, both under a cloud, and now the leaders of the ‘2.0’ initiative ... (click for more)

Bradley Early Favorite In Region 4-AAA Wrestling

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- We're getting down to the fun part of the high school wrestling season. All of the dual meets have been held and the State Duals are complete as well. Now it's time to see how many individuals each team can qualify for next week's traditional state tournament and that's the purpose of this weekend's regional action. The Bradley Bears, who breezed to ... (click for more)

McMasters Celebrates Senior Night With 1,000th Point

Tuesday was a special day for Claire McMasters, one that she'll probably remember the rest of her life. She was one of three young ladies who were honored on Senior Night at Grace Baptist Academy -- the other two being Katie Stead and Ebony Ransby --  and she put an exclamation point on the evening by scoring her 1,000th point to end the first quarter. Unfortunately, ... (click for more)