Potential settlement could end Mobile City Council lawsuit

Mobile County

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — There is a potential settlement in the lawsuit between the Mobile City Council and mayor.

This has been a ten month-long legal battle between the Mobile City Council and Mayor Sandy Stimpson. This all started a year ago with the termination of the council’s spokesperson.

News 5 has obtained a draft of the potential settlement.

If approved, it would officially reinstate the council’s spokesperson, Marion Steinfels, with a year of back pay.

Last October, the mayor fired Steinfels. In November, the council approved a professional services contract with Steinfels to re-hire her as the council’s spokesperson. The mayor then vetoed that resolution, but then the council overrode the mayor’s veto in a 6-1 vote.

That triggered a legal battle in which the mayor sued the council over their hiring authority. The lawsuit was filed on December 6, 2018. A judge said the city council spokesperson could resume her job on a volunteer basis while the legal proceedings were ongoing. The judge ordered the council and mayor to try and resolve the matter in mediation.

A resolution to hire the Atchison Firm as special counsel for Councilmembers Levon Manzie, John Williams, Joel Daves, C.J. Small, and Gina Gregory was on the city council’s agenda Tuesday. The purpose of the resolution is to file the settlement.

Other points of the settlement would require the mayor to provide the city council with signed copies of appointment letters for all personnel who serve the mayor and would dismiss all of the claims, counterclaims and motions in the case.

“The Mayor can hire or fire any Section 40/at-will employee for any legal reason. Ms. Steinfels was lawfully terminated. The settlement is simply a compromise to help us all move forward,”  says Jen Zoghby, Public Affairs Manager.

A separate resolution to hire separate special counsel for Councilmembers Fred Richardson and Bess Rich was also on the agenda.

The resolution to hire attorneys was pushed to next week’s council meeting.

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