White Hall Council approves settlement agreement with former town clerk

Published 2:29 pm Thursday, July 21, 2016

By Fred Guarino

The Lowndes Signal

During a special called meeting Wednesday night, July 20, the White Hall Town Council accepted a settlement agreement with former Town Clerk Shanavia Sellers that arose out of a civil dispute between Mayor James Walker and the Town Council.
According to Council member Eli Seaborn, the settlement was approved with Walker and Council member Elizabeth Davis abstained and Council members Seaborn, Joyce Barnfield, Ceodis Baker, and Ruby Rudolph voting in favor.
The settlement arose from the civil action of Mayor James Walker versus Ceodis Baker, et al, which resulted in stipulations, court orders and mediation including that Sellers was terminated as town clerk and was to provide a password for the town’s computer.
The agreement in principle voted upon by the council Wednesday night came about during an intervention hearing before Lowndes County Circuit Court Judge Terri Bozeman Lovell on July 6 brought by Sellers’ attorney Julian L. McPhillips Jr.
Lovell continued the case for 30 days from the July 6 hearing for the parties to work out the details and the council to officially approve the settlement.
According to attorneys Prince Chestnut for the council and McPhillips for Sellers (Walker was represented by Arlene Richardson) the council would pay Sellers $5,000 for loss of wages and mental anguish in connection with her termination in return for Sellers’ dismissal of her claims against the council and Sellers to work with information technology personnel or the Administrative Office of the Courts to provide a password or issue new passwords for the town’s computer.
McPhillips said following the July 6 hearing, “We had meaningful negotiations today while the judge (Lovell) was sitting on the bench, Prince Chestnut dealing with the four council members from White Hall and me (McPhillips) dealing with my client, Shanavia Sellers, and Arlene (Richardson) weighing in as attorney for the city of White Hall (James Walker).”
He said on July 6, “We’re getting hopefully close to a resolution. They’ve agreed to pay her $5,000 but she also has to agree to try to cooperate with IT and OAC to get whatever information they need to get the password to the computer going well again.” He also said Sellers would also give a release of any claims she had in state or federal court.
Chestnut said following the July 6 hearing that a written agreement would have to be drafted and after the attorneys gave their approval, it would become an action item for the council and the court would issue an order.
He said the parties would come back after the 30 days from July 6 and there would be a joint stipulation and dismissal.
Following the Wednesday night’s special called meeting of the council, Seaborn said, “We just accepted the agreement.”  While he said the agreement was approved, he said Walker and Davis abstained with the other four council members all voting in favor.
Seaborn said none of the attorneys were present for the special meeting nor was Sellers.
He said he understood what was approved was the settlement presented in court.

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