Councilwoman Conner’s lawyer says settlement is not ‘finalized’ in suit against city
Jacqueline Mittelstadt, attorney to councilwoman JoAnn Conner, says that she is still “going back and forth” with the City of South Lake Tahoe’s attorney as they work to reach a finalized settlement in her client’s lawsuits against the city.
Mittelstadt took issue with an announcement made by Mayor Wendy David in the Aug. 2 council meeting regarding the settlement, and said the statement was “premature.”
“We do have some reportable action from our closed session [on] JoAnn Conner versus the City of South Lake Tahoe, and we would like to announce that the city and Conner met in mid-June in a mediation session and we reached a settlement agreement in which Conner agreed to dismiss the city in Conner versus the City of South Lake Tahoe with prejudice,” said David on Aug. 2.
“The parties are in the process of finalizing the terms of the settlement agreement. Once finalized, the settlement agreement will be executed. The agreement will result in each party covering their own cost and fees, and there will be no payments between the parties.”
Mittelstadt said that in the June 14 mediation, the two parties did come to a “conceptual agreement,” but that the settlement has not yet been “approved by everyone and executed.”
“We are not there yet,” she added. “The city manager [Nancy Kerry] has not wanted to sign the settlement agreement with the provisions that she agreed to.”
“Apparently the city added two new provisions which Ms. Conner and I had never seen, and then [Mayor David] announced that we all have an agreement — so very unusual, but unclear whether or not there will be a settlement. It’s unclear whether there will have to be judicial intervention to effectuate a settlement or whether an agreement will actually occur.”
Bill Chisum, the attorney defending the city in the lawsuit, said that Mittelstadt’s statement regarding Kerry “is not accurate.”
“Without violating the confidentiality of the mediation terms, I can say that the City and Ms. Kerry have been committed to and remain committed to settling the lawsuit based upon the conceptual terms agreed to at the mediation,” Chisum wrote in an email. “The parties are negotiating the details of the formal settlement document, and we remain optimistic that we will have a final document in the near future.”
In response to Mittelstadt’s comments, Mayor David told the Tahoe Daily Tribune that it would indeed have been premature to say the settlement was finalized.
“Since we did sign off on the terms of the agreement in June, we were giving everyone an update. I certainly didn’t say that it was finalized, just that we are in the process of finalizing the terms,” said David.
She could not comment on whether new provisions were added to the settlement.
According to Mittelstadt, a judge may ultimately dictate the agreement if both parties cannot agree on language of the finalized settlement.
“Generally speaking, if parties come to an agreement in mediation … but if the parties thereafter refute what language should be in the settlement agreement, the actual document that formalizes the settlement, then a motion can be made to go to the judge and they have an evidentiary hearing. Both sides can see whatever the dispute is and the judge decides.”
When the settlement is finalized, details of the settlement will be released in a joint press release, noted Mittelstadt.
On Dec. 9, 2015, Conner filed two lawsuits in El Dorado County Court contesting the city council’s Oct. 19 vote to censure her due to alleged bullying of staff and members of partner agencies. One of the suits challenges how the city applied its censure protocol to Conner, and the other challenges the protocol itself. City manager Nancy Kerry was named along with the city in the lawsuit.