New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced today that the city is making its first installment on what will be 13 payments to past and present New Orleans firefighters in settlement of two major lawsuits. The first installment is $15 million.
You may recall that Mayor Landrieu was threatened with incarceration last October over his defiance of a court order to pay the firefighters what was owed. The parties settled the claims based on an agreement that the city will pay $75 million to the firefighters over a 13-year period.
Here is the mayor’s press release:
January 28, 2016
NEW ORLEANS – Today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced that the City of New Orleans has submitted its first upfront payment in a settlement with the Firefighters Union on the decades long firefighters back pay lawsuit and pension lawsuit.
The City wired $15 million to the plaintiffs in advance of the Feb. 1, 2016 deadline, the first payment required in the $75 million settlement reached last October. The agreement requires an upfront payment of $15 million for the outstanding back pay, with the balance paid over the next 12 years. The City’s potential liability of more than $200 million was satisfied under the terms of the settlement, which also included terms that will require substantial reforms to preserve the Fire Pension system for retired firefighters and save taxpayers an estimated $275 million over the next few decades. Equally important, this settlement ensures that essential city services, such as police, fire, EMS, street repairs and parks and recreation will not be threatened.
In April 2016, the City will go to the voters for a 2.5 mill increase to cover the costs of the remaining obligations.
“Our firefighters do an excellent job for the people of New Orleans,” said Mayor Landrieu. “Just yesterday, many of the NOFD firefighters risked their lives to contain a major fire on Canal Street and ensure the safety of our residents and visitors.” By settling the decades’ long lawsuit regarding firefighters back pay and resolving the pension lawsuit, we are doing right by them and better positioning our city for the future. This first payment as part of our settlement is proof that we are putting this long-term liability behind us.”
Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.