Commissioners Move to End Morrow v Shelby County; County to Pay $186,500

October 14, 2020 - The Shelby County Commissioners have made a motion seeking to end the Morrow v Shelby County class action lawsuit which has been hung over Shelby County and Tenaha for the past 14 years.

During their meeting October 14, 2020, Judge Allison Harbison shared the commissioners met with the county's attorneys with Flowers, Davis who have been representing Shelby County in the lawsuit.

"The federal Judge [Rodney Gilstrap] has seen fit to call a halt to this suit that we've been in for God knows how long," said Judge Harbison. "The only thing is he, the attorney fees that are owed by the plaintiff's attorneys, he did allow for some of those. Our portion is going to be $186,500."

Judge Harbison remarked that amount is 10% less than the amount owed would have been, because of Judge Gilstrap's decision. 

"Hopefully that Tenaha lawsuit will be dead and done," said Judge Harbison.

According to the total amount awarded to Plaintiffs, the City of Tenaha's portion should be $102,933.96

Judge Harbison explained, with the action the court takes today, a dismissal with prejudice will be entered. According to Judge Harbison, plaintiff's council will also release Shelby County from any past or future attorney fees.

She further stated the only fees that may be pending after that are Court Monitor fees for John Malcolm Bales, who has been the monitor since December 6, 2018. 

"[Bales] has been really good, and I think he was very instrumental in getting this lawsuit done," said Judge Harrison. "Because, plaintiff's attorney wanted to drag it out forever so thank goodness that the federal judge saw fit to say 'no more.'"

Judge Harbison stated a representative of Flowers Davis P.L.L.C would be going to plaintiff's attorney, Tim Garrigan, today to get the necessary documents signed. 

"Folks need to realize that, it's a lot of money, and it's not something that we can help. We're not throwing this money away, and if we don't do this motion today then those fees will continue to be more, and more, and more, so this is probably the best out we have to end this thing," said Commissioner Charles Barr.

Commissioner Roscoe McSwain commented on the vast expense the lawsuit has been for the county over the years.

"This is just a portion of what it's cost the county to litigate this and to continuously be under this monitor system, this lawyer continue to get to charge hourly fees," said McSwain. "We have no choice but to put it behind us."

A motion made by Judge Harbison, and seconded by Commissioner McSwain, carried and is as follows:
To approve payment of $186,500 for attorneys' fees to Plaintiffs' counsel in the class action case of Morrow v. Shelby County, et al., for purposes of bringing to an end, once and for all, this case and any further expenses to Shelby County other than any outstanding court ordered monitor fees. This payment will result in full and complete satisfaction of (1) all past awards of attorneys' fees, (2) all current claims for attorneys' fees, and (3) any future claims for attorneys' fees. This motion and payment is contingent upon (1) the Court entering an Order of Dismissal with Prejudice as to the Shelby County Defendants, and (2) Plaintiffs' counsel signing a Release of all past and future attorney's fees.

Rayford Copelin, Shelby County historical Commission, spoke with the commissioners once again about their recommendation to the county to abate the asbestos in the Historical Courthouse Annex.

Judge Harbison confirmed the money for the project is currently budgeted. 

Copelin provided some more information on the project to the commissioners relating to cost of the project, which he stated came to $13,826 and is less than they initially expected.

A motion carried by the commissioners to approve Brady Environmental Services and HP Envirovision to take care of the asbestos in the Historical Courthouse Annex building at a cost of $13,826.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:51am.

Agenda items approved during the meeting include:
1. Minutes of the September 2, 2020 Special meeting; September 9, 2020 Regular meeting; September 16, 2020 Special meeting; September 23, 2020 Special meeting; September 30, 2020 Special meeting of the Shelby County Commissioners' Court.

2. Pay weekly expenses.

3. Pay current payroll.

4. Officers Report.

5. Morrow, et al v. Shelby County, et al including pending claims for attorney's fees.

6.  Brady Environmental Services and HP Envirovision to take care of the asbestos in the Historical Courthouse Annex building at a cost of $13,826.

7. Adjourn

Related Articles:
Judge Awards Plaintiff Attorneys Almost $300,000 in Morrow v Shelby County
SC Historical Commission Seeks Asbestos Removal from Annex Building