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Statute of limitations on possible UEP lawsuits set to expire

By Staff | Nov 15, 2010

Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz wants citizens to know that a statute of limitations on possible UEP lawsuits is set to expire.
Chulakes-Leetz said a shade meeting to discuss a lawsuit that involves Councilmember Bill Deile and Mayor John Sullivan was moved from Dec. 6 to Dec. 15 by the city attorney’s office so those limitations could fade away.
He said the city attorney’s office was “purposely trying to take away the rights” of Cape Coral citizens.
Chulakes-Leetz added that the “clock was ticking” for residents who feel they may have been assessed improperly, and suits must be filed by Dec. 6.
“I was very concerned the citizens were not being properly represented,” he said.
The shade meeting has been set to discuss the mediated settlement for both Deile and Sullivan, and a third man named Robert Sylvester. Deile and Sullivan sued the city prior to becoming elected officials for what they felt was an unfair assessment methodology during the utilities expansion project.
A mediated settlement filed with the 20th Judicial Circuit of Florida says that Deile would receive $5,000, $1,500 of which would be donated to the city’s Charter School System’s Scholarship Fund; and Sullivan would receive $1, which would be donated to the American Cancer Society.
Sylvester would receive the same deal as Deile.
The settlement must be either approved or rejected by the three parties, and city council, in its entirety.
During the shade meeting, the terms of the suit will be discussed, but the city council will take a vote — which Deile and Sullivan would abstain from — in a public setting.
City Attorney Dolores Menendez advised that neither Deile or Sullivan discuss the topic from the dais.
Deile suggested the settlement be decided by City Manager Gary King, whom Deile said was empowered through city resolution to decide settlements of up to $100,000.
Deile said the kinds of settlements that can be decided by the city manager have to deal with property, worker’s compensation and liability cases.
“The resolution allows the city manager to settle for liability … this is liability,” Deile said.
Chulakes-Leetz said he didn’t the feel the decision should be left to the city manager.
“I’ll have a big problem with city manager if he takes the liberty to settle this without council approval,” he said.
Though no formal vote was taken, general consensus among those on the dais was to see the process continue on to the shade meeting scheduled for December.
“I’m in favor of leaving the process as it is,” said Councilmember Kevin McGrail
In other news, city council delayed discussion of Resolution 51-10, which would have amended council rules and procedures to include removing the invocation before the beginning of each meeting.
City council will discuss the proposed resolution during its workshop next week.