Despite a strong argument that Chris Williams’ back-pay lawsuit against the Lafayette Housing Authority was nothing more than a stunt to glean even more unearned money from the public, it appears the former city-parish councilman will indeed get his way as a joint motion for dismissal was filed Thursday in district court.
The fight between LHA and Williams emerged in August 2010 when he and several other case workers were terminated from their work on the federal Disaster Housing Assistance Program. Their termination stemmed from a blistering audit that revealed improper documentation, or rather no documentation, of their hours worked or their miles driven, despite receiving $600 monthly car allowances and $2,960 paychecks, which were based on a full-time pay rate of $37/hour for 40 hours/week. For Williams, even more questions were raised with the discovery that he held a second full-time job at UL Lafayette.
Williams claims the DHAP work was actually being handled by two female workers, Paula Scott and Michelle Mouton, from his nonprofit, the Lafayette Training and Career Development Center.
Though his original claim was for about $20,000, it is unclear how much Williams was seeking through his lawsuit and how much he will get it what appears to be a negotiated settlement. (The Daily Advertiser has repeatedly reported that he is seeking $2 million, but we could not find that figure in the lawsuit or get anywhere near it based on his claims.)
While LHA Executive Director Katie Anderson did not return our call for comment, the news of Thursday’s joint motion — which is the equivalent of an out-of-court settlement that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has agreed to — is quite surprising, especially considering HUD's original vow to fight Williams to the end. HUD is LHA's primary source of funding and is calling the shots on the lawsuit.
Williams’ claim most likely wouldn’t have held up in court: Not only does he lack documentation of ever performing the case work, he also has no written contract. Williams’ case, in fact, is based on a vague verbal agreement made with Jonathan Carmouche, the LHA’s former second-in-command who vanished from the area following a federal investigation into corruption at the housing authority.
According the Clerk of Court’s office, Thursday’s joint motion has been submitted to 15th Judicial District Judge Edward Broussard for approval.
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