Notifications are now going out to inform those who worked for the Conway police and fire departments between Dec. 1, 2001, and Dec. 31, 2012, of details regarding the class-action suit against the city.
The suit stems from a 2012 lawsuit Conway Police Department K-9 Officer Richard Shumate and Conway Fire Department Damon Reed filed in Faulkner County Circuit Court that accused the city of breaching its contract for salary improvements.
A Faulkner County circuit judge granted the plaintiffs’ class action status in December 2015. However, the city appealed the decision to the Arkansas Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court has since upheld Circuit Judge Troy B. Braswell Jr.’s decision, which certified about 200 Conway police officers and firefighters in the breach of contract lawsuit. In early July, Braswell approved the Class Notice and Notice Plan devised by the plaintiffs.
Those notices are being sent out now, informing class members of the suit as well as how to dismiss themselves if they wish.
Marcus Bozeman, an attorney who represents the city, said anyone who meets the qualifications of a class member is automatically included in the suit.
Notices are being mailed out to each member whose records were made available by the city. Notices will also be printed in the Log Cabin Democrat on Friday and Sept. 8.
The class, as previously certified in Faulkner County Circuit Court, includes all Conway police and fire employees, excluding department heads and elected officials, who were employed by the city between Dec. 1, 2001, and Dec. 31, 2012.
Once the notice is sent to class members, Bozeman said they have until Dec. 1 to opt out, if they choose.
Russell A. Wood, who represents Shumate and Reed, said repayment would be based off each member’s payment records.
He also said money the city’s employees did not receive had accrued interest over the years that they are also entitled to. This interest could double what the city would pay the class.
“It’s our expectation that the delayed tactics of the city will result in almost as much money in actual damages to the city’s firemen and policemen,” Wood said.
After the opt-out deadline passes, Wood said the next step is to seek summary judgments and begin dispositions.
The lawsuit stems from a Conway City Council-approved quarter-cent sales tax that would be used “exclusively to the salaries if the employees of the City of Conway,” according to the ballot resolution that was passed by Conway voters in August 2001.
Employees allege they did not receive money they were promised.