After a nearly three-year fight, Chris Williams and the Lafayette Housing Authority have agreed to walk away from the back-pay lawsuit filed by the former city-parish councilman in 2011, with each side agreeing to cover its own court costs.
|Former City-Parish Councilman Chris Williams|
Court documents detailing the terms of the dismissal are brief, only revealing that both parties agreed to end the suit and to cover its own court costs. What the dismissal doesn’t mention is whether a settlement deal was brokered outside the court house walls and whether any money LHA — actually the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which funds and now controls the agency — will be going into Williams' pocket.
Williams claims he's owed $20,000 from LHA, an argument he bases off of a vague verbal contract with the local housing authority's former second-in-command, Jonathan Carmouche. Williams filed the suit after he was terminated as a case worker for the federal Disaster Housing Assistance Program over his lack of timesheets and mileage records; he also had a full-time job at UL Lafayette while he was supposed to be working the DHAP contract.
The IND reached out to LHA Executive Director Katie Anderson, but her office she’s out sick.
HUD is the federal agency has been calling the shots on the suit, and had previously vowed to fight Williams to the bitter end.
Four former DHAP workers sued for back pay and the LHA settled with at least two of them.
Suits filed by Linda Jefferson and Myra Parker were settled by HUD and the Lafayette Housing Authority for $10,000 and $30,000, respectively. It remains unclear whether a settlement was struck with Beatrice Wilson, better known as Porsha Evans; a fifth worker, Charlie Esie, appears to not have taken legal action (although a potential claim could have been settled without a lawsuit).
The IND spoke Wednesday afternoon with HUD Public Affairs Officer Patricia Campbell, who says she's unaware of a settlement. Campbell says she is looking into the matter and will get back to us soon with more information.
The IND also put in a freedom of information request asking whether any payouts were made to Wilson and Esie.
Former LHA board member Buddy Webb says the housing authority paid about $50,000 in legal fees defending Williams' lawsuit.
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