On Monday, March, 2 the Greensboro City Council met in closed session to discuss an 11-year-old lawsuit that has cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees.
The lawsuit is David Wray versus the City of Greensboro and was filed in January 2009.
A city councilmember said off the record that the discussion in closed session was about settling the lawsuit.
Wray was the Greensboro police chief from 2003 until then city manager Mitch Johnson locked Wray out of his office and forced him to resign in January 2006. (Just for reference, in January 2006, City Councilmember Justin Outling was in his first year at the Duke University School of Law.)
A bunch of lawsuits were filed following Wray’s resignation, including several that named Wray as a defendant.
Back in 1980, the Greensboro City Council passed a policy stating that the city would pay for the legal fees incurred by city employees who were sued for actions they took in the scope of their employment unless that employee, “1) acted with fraud, corruption or actual malice, or 2) acted or failed to act in a wanton or oppressive manner.” Despite the policy the city has for over 11 years refused to pay the $220,000 in legal fees that Wray accrued defending himself in the lawsuits that were about actions he took as police chief.
In 2016, then City Councilmember Mike Barber tried to convince four other councilmembers to go ahead and settle the lawsuit, which at the time had cost the city $457,000 in legal fees.
It was also revealed during that time that the city had forgotten why it didn’t pay the $220,000 in Wray’s legal fees in the first place.
Also in 2016, then City Councilmember Tony Wilkins looked over Wray’s personnel files and said he could find no reason in the file for not paying Wray’s legal fees and a search of city records revealed no written record of why the legal fees were not paid.
Despite all of that, Barber came up one vote short and instead the city appealed the case to the North Carolina Supreme Court and, in August 2017, the court upheld the decision by the North Carolina Court of Appeals that Wray could sue the city for his legal fees.