Judge Cates to set distribution of $6.8 million teacher settlement

Alejandro de los Rios Jun. 14, 2010, 1:52pm


Judge Sidney Cates IV will rule June 18 on the distribution of settlement funds in a class action suit filed by teachers against the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) in which $6.8 million is at stake.

Angelyn Mills, Diane Nzinga and the United Teachers of New Orleans filed a class action suit against the OPSB in Orleans Parish District Court in 2003 after they were denied pay raises mandated by Louisiana State Act 1341 which amended Louisiana Revised Statute 17:1202.

Act 1341 cut down on the amount of sick leave given to teachers and imposed additional requirements on teachers applying for extended sick leave in exchange for a pay raise for all Parish School Boards in Louisiana with the monies saved by the amendments.

New Orleans attorney Charles Samuel III is representing the class. New Orleans attorneys John Etter and Regina Bartholomew are representing the OPSB. New Orleans attorney Donesia Turner began as defendant counsel but withdrew in July 2005.

As part of a settlement agreement on April 25, 2005, the OPSB authorized the payment of the full sum of $6,844,433.67 that was saved as a result of Act 1341 to eligible members of the class. The payments were to be made in two installments, the first at the first payroll of September 2005 and the second with the last payroll of December 2005.

In November 2009, the OPSB filed a memorandum in opposition to plaintiffs' motion for final approval of the settlement and distribution of funds, looking to be refunded $2.4 million of the unclaimed settlement funds.

The motion stated that less than 60 percent of eligible class members claimed compensation and, as a result, the "3,057 claimants who submitted a proof of claim form would improperly receive a windfall and be paid forty percent or more above the amount each person is owed.

After a hearing in December 2009, Cates signed a consent judgment itemizing the partial distribution of settlement funds for different categories of the eligible class members. The OPSB was opposed to the consent judgment.

Orleans Parish Case 2003-01560

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