12/18/2012 10:55:00 PM City to appeal severance suit to Appellate Court
The city of Wilmington will appeal the Circuit Court's decision to award severance to two former city employees to the state Appellate Court.
In July, Circuit Court Judge Bobbi Petrungaro awarded former city administrator Sheryl Puracchio and former police chief Mike Imhof severance based on their original employment contracts, not the amended contracts under which they petitioned for severance.
City attorney John Urban asked the judge to reconsider the judgment and permit a new trial, as the city had had no opportunity to present its case concerning the original contracts in court and the plaintiffs had not requested severance based on them.
Mayor Marty Orr maintains that the original contracts provided Puracchio two months pay as severance, and Imhof was to receive three months pay - if they were terminated without cause. Based on those provisions, Orr maintains Puracchio quit and Imhof's contract had expired before his job came to an end, and neither is entitled to severance.
The judge denied the request to reconsider the judgment, and the motions for new trials.
Last week, Judge Petrungaro also ordered the city to pay an additional $3,400 in attorney fees. The plaintiffs spent that amount since July responding to post-judgment motions entered by the city. The total cost of their legal services, with the Dec. 10 order, has risen to $27,666. By state law, the city is responsible for those costs.
In the July decision, in addition to attorney fees and court costs, Petrungaro awarded Puracchio $12,600 severance plus $4,788, the statutory penalty of 2 percent per month for the period of January 2011, when a new law permitting the award of penalties went into effect, to July 2012.
In addition to attorney fees and court costs, Imhof was awarded $18,750 severance plus $7,125 in penalties.
Attorney Urban also seeks a stay of enforcement of the original judgment, which would prohibit the plaintiffs from collecting the severance, fees and interest until the decision is final.
The city has racked up about $34,000 in legal fees so far in its own defense.