St. Lawrence County legislators vote to settle $2.9 million lawsuit
CANTON -- St. Lawrence County approved a resolution Monday to settle a $2.9 million lawsuit for $450,000.
The Wladis Law Firm’s lawsuit against the county, the towns of Lisbon, Louisville, Massena and Waddington, Lisbon Central School District, Madrid-Waddington Central School District, Massena Central School District is currently pending in the New York State Supreme Court, according to the resolution.The Wladis Law Firm alleged that the municipalities had secured legal services from the company via contract retainer provided pursuant to a negotiated engagement agreement between the firm and the St. Lawrence Local Government Task Force for issues related to NYPA and the St. Lawrence River dating to June of 2013, the resolution says.
Under that agreement the Wladis Law Firm alleged it was entitled "to an award of damages in the amount of not less than $2,975,000, plus additional amounts after a determination was to be made as to the value of certain non-monetary benefits, plus interest at the rate of 12 percent per year."
Under the settlement St. Lawrence County and the fellow defendant municipalities have disputed their liability under the alleged agreement and have negotiated an agreement where the municipalities would waive their ability to claim part of $450,000 held for the benefit of the Local Government Task Force. That money represents payments received from the New York Power Authority on account of high river flow payments. The money would go to Wladis Law Firm.
St. Lawrence County Legislature Chairman Kevin Acres R-Madrid says he is pleased with the settlement, which will not hurt local taxpayers. Payment for the settlement will come from the “high flow” revenues generated by the hydro-dam.
St. Lawrence County Attorney Stephen Button says this funding has been used to pay off debt acquired by the task force in the past and has also been used to fund legal services.
Button offered his appreciation to several attorneys who played key roles in reaching the agreement.
Attorneys who aided in the defense included, John Muldowney representing the Village of Massena, Eric Gustafson representing the towns of Louisville, Madrid and Massena, Charlie Nash representing the towns of Waddington and Lisbon, Andrew Silver representing Madrid-Waddington and Lisbon Schools and Charles Symons representing Massena Central School District.
He also expressed gratitude to Michael Wright who represented Wladis in the suit.
The settlement won’t be finalized until approved by all municipalities involved in the suit.