Statement from Attorney General Jepsen on Settlement Agreement
with Plaintiffs in State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition v. Rowland
Attorney General George Jepsen today released the following statement on the settlement agreement reached in the long-standing case of State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition v. Rowland:
"This settlement agreement was reached after many months of negotiations between counsel for SEBAC and my office, and the settlement would resolve all claims for economic, compensatory and punitive damages as well as attorneys' fees and costs related to this case. In the nearly 12 years since this litigation was initiated, these negotiations represented the first substantive discussions seeking to resolve the case. I am convinced that this settlement is in the best interest of the state of Connecticut and its taxpayers for a number of reasons.
"Make no mistake – there are costs associated with this settlement, and while they will not be fully known or realized for some time, they are not insignificant. I am deeply mindful of the fiscal difficulties confronting the state. However, the financial risks of not settling are simply too significant to ignore. The settlement we have negotiated will substantially reduce the impact on the state budget not only by decreasing the state's overall financial exposure but also by spreading the financial liabilities over a number of years.
"The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit has ruled unanimously against the state in this matter. While we believe the legal argument we developed in our since-withdrawn U.S. Supreme Court petition was strong, the reality is that the court only grants certification in a small fraction of cases. The state would assume great risk in deciding to continue litigation in this case.
"If this case were not settled, the worst-case scenario involving an award of damages at the trial court would result in exposure to the state of as high as $300 million or more. Payment of that sum could be due in-full as early as 30 days from judgment. Through this settlement, we believe we have reduced the state's exposure by more than 40 percent and have structured payment of economic damages – by far the largest portion of the state's exposure – over a minimum of two budget cycles.
"Additionally, the plaintiffs have agreed to accept deferred payment of economic damages in most cases, either in the form of vacation pay and personal leave awards to be used during the course of employment or redeemed at the end of state employment or in installment payments over the next three years. This result, which greatly reduces the need for an immediate cash payout, simply would not have been possible through litigation.
"Finally, this settlement brings to a close a case that has endured for more than a decade and ends the uncertainty of litigation for all involved parties. As I have said in the past, whether justified or not, the layoffs at issue in this case undeniably burdened thousands of families who have lived without resolution for a very long time. Continued uncertainty serves no one, and the state as well as the plaintiffs will benefit from bringing this litigation to a close.
"I appreciate the willingness of the plaintiffs to engage in the good-faith negotiations that have ultimately resulted in this settlement. I urge the General Assembly to allow this settlement to move forward in order to resolve this case."
Jaclyn M. Falkowski