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May 12, 2021

City meets in closed session to consult with attorney on two ongoing litigation cases

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — The city council on Tuesday met in a closed session to consult with an attorney for two ongoing litigation cases.

Council members met for a special called meeting at 4 p.m. to consult with an attorney for a worker’s compensation case and ongoing litigation related to the city’s water system with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The worker’s compensation case relates to litigation filed against the city by former Salisbury Police Officer Karl Boehm, who was cleared by District Attorney Brandy Cook in the November 2016 shooting death of Ferguson Laurent. The shooting occurred on Nov. 3, 2016, when Salisbury Police Officers were at 625 E. Lafayette St. attempting to serve a “no-knock” search warrant. A no-knock search warrant does not require officers to immediately announce they are there to serve a warrant.

Upon conclusion of the Salisbury City Council meeting, Mayor Karen Alexander announced that the city gave instruction to City Attorney Graham Corriher to move forward with reaching a settlement in that case and that details would be provided once reached.

“If a final settlement is reached, the terms of the settlement will be reported to the city council and entered into its minutes after the settlement is concluded,” she said.

Corriher, however, told the Post the settlement is considered confidential and not a matter of public record, citing North Carolina General Statute 97-92. The city is also not authorized to discuss the terms of the settlement once reached, he said.

He clarified the mayor’s statement is part of the process followed for settlements reached in civil lawsuits.

Corriher said the city is being represented in this case by Andy Avram of Cranfill Sumner LLP, which has locations in Raleigh and Charlotte. The city has received legal counsel from the same firm in recent years.

“The city has been advised that North Carolina law treats workers compensation settlements differently than civil settlements, and therefore the terms of a workers compensation settlement cannot be shared publicly when the settlement it is finalized,” Corriher told the Post. “There are legitimate public policy reasons that North Carolina law proactively provides greater confidentiality protection for workers compensation records, including the likelihood that the records contain or that information in them may reveal protected medical information of the worker.”

Communications Director Linda McElroy confirmed to the Post that Boehm is no longer an officer with the Salisbury Police Department.

No announcement about the ongoing litigation with FERC was mentioned after the closed session meeting. The city of Salisbury has fought for years against proposals it says would further endanger the water intake for Salisbury-Rowan Utilities on the Yadkin River.

High Rock Dam and sediment that’s built up as a result, have produced worsening flooding problems for the water intake. More than once, city employees have used boats to reach the intake and turn off equipment before it gets damaged.

Last year, the city filed an appeal to a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruling, saying it doesn’t provide flood protection for the water supply building and doesn’t address sediment build up.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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