ILNews

Settlement reached in equal pay suit

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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A day before a multi-million dollar class action suit was supposed to go to trial, attorneys reached a settlement in the state employees' equal pay case that is expected to give every plaintiff what they asked for.

The class - made up of as many as 15,000 former state employees - wanted compensation for hours they worked between 1973 and 1993 and didn't receive equal pay of fellow workers, who had only worked 37 1/2 hours compared to their 40 hours a week. A state appellate ruling in 1993 corrected the pay disparity and directed all full-time employee salaries be based on the lower work-hour total, but the state didn't offer compensation for those who'd worked longer hours before the court ruling.

As a result, this suit - Paula Brattain, et al. v. Richmond State Hospital, et. al. No. 49D11-0108-CP-1309 - came in February 2002. It was set for trial Tuesday.

But after "marathon settlement discussions" on Sunday, attorneys reached a compromise and the court approved a preliminary settlement today, according to Indianapolis plaintiffs' attorney John Kautzman.

The settlement states that all claimants adversely affected would receive 100 percent of their back pay, Kautzman said. A 60-90 day claim period will now begin, where any state worker who believes he or she might have been affected can file a claim to receive damages. Since the pay disparity happened so long ago, the estimated number of potential claimants is nearly impossible to assess, he said - the number could range from five to 15,000 people.

A part of the settlement includes a way for the state to rescind its offer, if the total amount paid comes out to be more than $8.5 million, Kautzman said. In that case, the state could ask that the case proceed to trial.

"Both sides think that it won't be that high, but this is a way to proceed in the case if it's larger than any of us anticipated," he said. "The state could still pony up and pay it, and be done. Or they could ask to go to trial."

Kautzman describes this as a victory on several fronts, since the workers can get complete compensation and, even if the state rescinds the offer, plaintiffs could still have their day in court. He expects it will likely be late October or November before all the claims are submitted and it can be determined who will be paid.
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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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