Insurer settles trio of lawsuits

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

ABERDEEN – A trio of federal lawsuits was settled Tuesday against the city of Aberdeen and its utility operation.
U.S. District Court records show dismissal orders signed by Judge Sharion Aycock in the cases.
Tupelo attorney Jim Waide, who represented the complaining parties, said he was bound by a strict confidentiality agreement and couldn’t say how much the settlements were.
The court docket shows that one lawsuit was scheduled for trial Aug. 9. All the lawsuits were filed in March-April 2009 by Aberdeen residents.
One lawsuit was filed for Viki E. Mason, Billy Brasfield and Cecil Jones Jr. against Adrian Garth, who was the city’s utilities director, as well as city officials Cloyd Garth, Alonzo Sykes Sr., and former official Willie Cook, the city and its insurance carriers.
They alleged the defendants operated the Utilities Department in an unconstitutional, discriminatory way.
The three plaintiffs, who are white, claimed they were required to pay for their utility services, while the defendants “arbitrarily” allowed black residents, city employees and certain ward residents to delay their payments or not pay at all.
They also were critical of other department policies, especially the accuracy of bills.
Another lawsuit was filed on behalf of Bular Mae Daniel and Essie Daniel against the city, Adrian Garth and the city’s insurance carriers. It was set for trial in May 2011.
Their criticism of the city utilities operation included its service disconnection policy and alleged cronyism for free service.
The third suit, by Mary V. Wilson, alleged many of the same issues against the city.
Waide also said he plans to file a notice that Wilchie Clay will sue the city over alleged utility service giveaway during a 2008 alderman election that ended with Clay’s loss to Cloyd Garth by one vote.
At the time, Waide and Tupelo attorney Kirk Tharp, who represented the local Democratic Executive Committee, attempted to prove that not only illegal votes had been cast, but also fraudulent ones. Garth denied their allegations under oath.

Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.