Greensboro, N.C. - The city of Greensboro now says it has spent about three million dollars on legal fees fighting lawsuits filed by current and former police officers. Wednesday, the city settled three of the lawsuits for $500,000.
We interact with the city more often than we realize. City workers pick up our trash, respond to emergencies and even keep our drinking water safe. Each of those interactions is a chance for the city to do something well or to make a mistake. Keep in mind, there are about two-thousand city employees.
Over the past two years, the city of Greensboro has been sued about eighty times. Fifty of those cases have been resolved. About thirty are still pending. Few end up at trial.
"A lot of times, cases are resolved either by the courts dismissing them, or by reaching an informal resolution. Sometimes people decide they've done what they needed to do and they no longer need to pursue the case," Greensboro City Attorney Mujeeb Shah-Khan said. "A case, once it's filed, means something to the person that brought it. We respect that. We understand that if a citizen of Greensboro wants to challenge what the city has done, it matters to them. So, we hope... we treat it with the respect it deserves."
You might be wondering if there are guidelines or rules about when the city fights a case and when it settles. There are not. The city attorney told WFMY News 2 he takes every case seriously and looks at each case on an individual basis.
"If it's a case where the city did something wrong, we will look to try to resolve it. But, if it's a case where we feel the city did nothing wrong and it is worth trying to defend, we may defend that one all the way through to the trial," Mujeeb Shah-Khan said.
When we asked Mujeeb Shah-Khan if settling the police lawsuits sends a message to other people who might want to sue, he responded, "For somebody that feels this means it's open season the city and you should go ahead and sue the city, don't view the cases as that...It's not that the city pocketbooks are open, or that you can sue the city and the city will write you a check. We're going to take a look at every individual case."