What you care you don't pay taxes. You sick bast erdThe total price tag for outside attorneys to represent the City of Utica's interests in the civil lawsuit stemming from police Investigator Joseph Longo's killing of his wife:$163,589.89.
But the lion's share of that amount more than $112,500 was tallied up from the Syracuse-based law firm hired to solely represent former Utica police Chief Daniel LaBella in the last two month's of the three-year-long litigation, city attorneys said.
In October, city Mayor Robert Palmieri had agreed to pay the law firm Hancock & Estabrook, LLP an amount that would not exceed $100,000, Corporation Counsel Bill Borrill said Monday. The law firm, however, has billed the city for $112,570.32 in expenses of which only $18,460.72 has already been paid to date, Borrill said.
On Monday, Borrill was also appointed as head Corporation Counsel to replace attorney Mark Curley, who will continue to work with the office on a contractual basis.
The total bills paid to two other law firms that represented the city and the Utica Police Department, Borrill said, were far less:$27,044.57 for Petrone & Petrone and $23,975 for Gorman, Waskiewicz, Gorman & Schmitt.
Because the bill for Hancock & Estabrook represented in the Longo case by John Murad Jr., Ashley Hayes and Michael Arcuri went beyond the agreed upon cap, Borrill said the city is evaluating whether those excess expenses will be paid.
"We're just trying to determine why they're over the cap," Borrill said. "We're not saying they didn't do the work. They did the work, that's not the issue."
These attorney fees will first be paid by whatever remains in the Corporation Counsel's account for contracted services, then any remaining costs will be paid out of the city's account for judgments and settlements, said city Budget Director Peter Fiorillo.
"There's enough money in there to cover the difference," Fiorillo said of the judgment account.
The city was prompted to hire the outside attorneys last fall when U.S. District Court Judge David N. Hurd did not dismiss the multi-million dollar Longo lawsuit as the city had hoped, Borrill said. So as the city's attorneys found themselves facing a complex and lengthy trial set to begin in a matter of weeks, Borrill said his office's limited manpower gave the city no choice but to seek outside assistance.
Much of Hancock & Estabrook's efforts were then focused on immediately appealing Hurd's decision to deny LaBella immunity from the lawsuit, Borrill said. But before the federal appeal's court ruled on that matter, the city agreed on Dec. 18 to settle the lawsuit for $2 million with the family of Longo's wife, Kristin Palumbo-Longo.
Palumbo-Longo was stabbed to death by Longo on Sept. 28, 2009, following a series of troubling incidents involving her husband, who also killed himself. Because Palumbo-Longo had reported those prior instances to the Utica Police Department, her family then sued the city for not doing enough to address Longo's behavior.
Roefaro/Labella& UPD Losers cost U additional $164k
Posted in the Utica Forum
#4 Feb 4, 2014
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