Saturday, May 18, 2024

The city will not appeal the Monteiro case again, City Manager Robert W. Healy said Friday.

“I have reviewed the appeals court decision with legal counsel and informed the City Council this morning that I have decided not to pursue an appeal to the State Supreme Judicial Court in this 13-year-old case,” Healy said in a statement. “It is now time for the city to move forward and bring closure to this matter.”

The council went into a closed-door session at about 9:20 a.m. to hear from Healy; his statement was issued at about 10:50 a.m., and e-mailed shortly after 11 a.m. The meeting followed a stinging appeals court rejection of the city’s case.

“I am very disappointed with this decision and maintain that the city did not retaliate against Ms. Monteiro after having been found by an earlier jury not to have discriminated against her,” Healy said.

The cost to the city and its taxpayers is, all told, expected to be more than $10 million.

A jury found against the city in 2008 on a claim of retaliation, racial discrimination and wrongful-termination by former city employee Malvina Monteiro, awarding more than $4.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages; she was also awarded pre- and post-judgment interest, attorney’s fees and costs, for a total $6.7 million, the court said Monday — and Cambridge attorney fees may well up the total to $10 million.

Monteiro’s attorney, Ellen Zucker, said a July 24 calculation of the total, not including her fees (or for those of city lawyers), is $7,655,851.

Healy said he has planned “over the years … for such a potential unfortunate outcome” and that  paying the award to Malvina Monteiro, who sued on an accusation of wrongful termination, will not affect the city’s tax levy for the next fiscal year. The judgment will be paid from the unreserved fund balance account, he said.

There were originally five women of color accusing the city of misconduct; Zucker said two gave up and moved out of state. She represents the final two, Linda Stamper and Mary Wong, starting with a pretrial hearing in Wong’s case in mid-September. Healy’s statement didn’t say how those cases would be handled or whether the city would settle; the cases are said to be very similar to Monteiro’s, and a staffer in his office said there was no information on that “at this time.”

Mayor David Maher and the city’s Law Department were also called for comment.