Wednesday, May 22, 2024

And so it ends.

Marked by a cover letter and legal document dated Friday, the city has officially settled with former employee Malvina Monteiro over her 12-year-old wrongful-termination lawsuit.

“The city does not oppose the petition and has this day paid the requested amount, after determining it to be reasonable,” wrote Joan A. Lukey of Ropes & Gray, the Boston law firm the city has used in its defense and appeals in the case.

The court documents show that, all told, some $8.3 million Cambridge has socked away over the years in an unreserved fund balance account has been conveyed — it is typically done through wire transfer — to Monteiro, of Cape Verde, and her attorney, Ellen Zucker of the firm Burns & Levinson. Beyond confirmation of the documents and the payment described within, Zucker declined to comment Monday.

She represents Linda Stamper and Mary Wong, women of color who have cases similar to Monteiro, who went from being executive secretary for the city’s Police Review & Advisory Board to suing the city for racial discrimination, retaliation for a complaint of that discrimination and wrongful termination. Zucker has said Wong has a pretrial hearing this month, and resident Richard Clarey, an attorney who’s kept a close eye on the Monteiro proceedings, said during Monday’s meeting of the City Council that there’s a final status conference Oct. 11, when a trial date will be set.

A Cambridge Chronicle request for minutes of years’ worth of closed-door council meetings concerning Monteiro was rejected, as mentioned by Maher as part of the Monday council meeting’s “communications and reports from city officers” agenda item. With two cases not yet litigated, the minutes warrant “continued nondisclosure at this time,” he said in a brief note bearing Thursday’s date.

Councillor Craig Kelley has asked City Manager Robert W. Healy to report to the council Sept. 19 on “the status of any cases for which the recently concluded Monteiro case might be relevant.” It was Healy’s decision to appeal the 2008 verdict in Monteiro’s favor after she was granted more than $4.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

His report could clarify what it would cost to settle or fight the remaining two cases. Even if the city were to settle immediately, though, there would still be work for lawyers to do.

At the end of the petition for payment are 66 pages of breakdowns for what the attorneys and law firms are to be paid (gone through in detail because the courts demand a settlement to be “reasonable,” and that results in a justification of every hour billed, law associate used and expert called to testify). The city’s appeal alone, starting in September 2008, was worth $693,623 to Ropes & Gray, while Zucker’s wages are dizzying to the average person: $425 an hour in 2009, $440 an hour last year and $450 an hour now.

The documents suggest that fees for the city’s lawyers dating back to the trial in the fall of 2004 may be between $2.5 million and $3 million, bumping the total cost to the city as high as $11.3 million. The city Law Department was contacted Tuesday for clarification, but hasn’t replied.