Suit a mistake

Published 2:19 pm Wednesday, July 31, 2002

By By Robbie Byrd, News Editor
A lawsuit filed against the Escambia County School Board in the U.S. Southern District Court earlier this month has caused plenty of confusion, and may have been a mistake.
The suit, filed by Gloria M. Bosley of 209 Crosby Street in Brewton alleges that the E.C.B.O.E. owes her over 140 hours in overtime pay she never received.
Bosley denies filing the suit, however records show her signature affixed to it.
Bosley claims that she intended to file the suit against the Brewton City School System.
E.C.B.O.E. Superintendent Melvin "Buck" Powell finds this suit extremely interesting, because he said Bosley was never employed by the system.
"She worked for the Brewton City School System as far as I'm aware," Powell said. "This has nothing to do with us."
Lynn Smith, Superintendent of Brewton City Schools said that after he was contacted by Powell, he researched the issue and did find that Bosley was an employee.
However Bosley had not been employed with Brewton City Schools since 1989, almost 14 years ago, when she had worked at Brewton Middle School, Smith said.
The suit claims that Bosley incurred 144 hours of overtime pay she never received from the period of June 1999-June 2002.
However, she adamantly denied in a phone interview that she ever worked during the period of June 1999-June 2002.
The attorney representing Bosley in this case, Robert "Bob" Ramsey, said that all he knows is what his client has told him.
"We rely on the clients being honest and their information being accurate," Ramsey said. "If in fact she was not employed by Escambia County, then they will not have to defend themselves in the case and it will be dissmissed at the appropriate time."
Over 30 such suits have been filed throughout the state by Ramsey and his firm, Ramsey Law Firm, P.C.
Suits against school systems in Choctaw County, Clarke County, Dallas County, Escambia County, City of Hale, Marengo County, Mobile County, Monroe County, Perry County, City of Selma, Washington County, Wilcox County, Barbour County, Bullock County, Butler County, Henry County, Lowndes County, Macon County, Montgomery County, Pike County, Tallapoosa County, Sumter County, Greene County, City of Birmingham and Jefferson County school systems have been filed by Ramsey and his firm, he said.
Each of the suits throughout the state claim that a plaintiff was not paid for any less than 144 hours of overtime pay, but Ramsey said that the actual amount of overtime owed will be decided individually in each case.
"Some may be owed for over 500 hours of overtime," Ramsey said.
All the suits were filed on the same day in their respective U.S. District Courts, either in Birmingham, Mobile or Montgomery.
The suits claim violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act from all the listed systems, and call for actual damages, statutory damages and associated attorney's fees and court costs.
Ramsey said that these suits, while numerous, are still justifiable suits.
"If you work someone on an hourly basis, you should pay them," Ramsey said. "And if that time is more than 40 hours a week, you should pay them time and a half for their overtime."
The suits come shortly after President Bush visited Birmingham and expressed his concern over such lawsuits.
Ramsey responded: "What Republican doesn't talk about frivolous lawsuits?"
While neither Powell nor Smith would comment on their feelings about the suit, Ramsey said that he hopes the suit is just a misunderstanding.
"We don't know how many folks may file against E.C.B.O.E.," Ramsey said. "Hopefully, they haven't been a violator.
"I don't want any of these schools to be big violators… I hope they have been managed better than that. We'll see," Ramsey said.
Smith said that he is handling the case just as he does many others.
"If I get anything, I will forward it over to our carrier of general liability and let them handle it," Smith said.
Ramsey, Powell and Smith were all unsure as to Bosley's true complaint.
According to the U.S. Southern District Court, the case is still open and will be heard along with the others throughout the state at an undetermined time.
If it is determined that Powell's system was not involved, the case will be thrown out.
However, Ramsey said he has no plans to change the suit to file against the Brewton City System.
Bosley did not comment on whether or not she was throwing out the suit. However, she admitted the suit was a mistake and said staff members of The Advance - who have no judicial authority and who are not involved in the case - should straighten out the matter.

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