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Charlotte settles over weekly $5 police department deductions

$2 million settlement

Action: Ultra vires

Injuries alleged: Illegal taking

Case name: Wright v. City of Charlotte

Court/case no.: Mecklenburg County Superior Court/No. 21-CVS-4063

Jury and/or judge: Judge R. Gregory Horne; mediator James L. Gale, conducted three mediation sessions over nine months

Demand: $15,000,000

Highest offer: $1,999,000 + access to $174,173.03

Amount: $1,999,000 + $174,173.03

Date: April 3, 2023

Attorneys: Daniel R. Taylor, Jr. & E. Winslow Taylor of Taylor & Taylor in Winston-Salem and W. Ellis Boyle of Knott & Boyle in Raleigh (for the plaintiffs)

In January 1966, the Charlotte City Council approved $5 weekly deductions as requested by Voluntary Police Pledge Fund participants to support a police department benefits program.

The program continued through June 2019, when it was determined not to be sustainable.

Further deductions were enjoined and $174,173.03 in deductions were frozen in an account at Wells Fargo pursuant to an order in Graue, et al. v. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Voluntary Police Pledge Fund, 19-CVS-13137 (Mecklenburg County).

In their complaint, the plaintiffs initially alleged breach of fiduciary duty and negligent misrepresentation claims, arguing that the program lacked authority from the North Carolina General Assembly providing that the city could deduct for or administrate a retirement or death benefit plan.

However, the complaint was amended to allege an ultra vires claim which had a 10-year statute of limitations, providing the best chance of a meaningful recovery for the plaintiffs.

The city produced records showing all pledge fund deductions from Jan. 2, 2001, through termination of the plan.

The continuing tort doctrine allowed 1,259 class member participants to recover all deductions if a single deduction was taken on or after March 16, 2011, based on the 10-year time period.

The total deductions experienced by the class was $3,920,833.48.

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