Hundreds of Dallas police officers and fire fighters will finally get thousands of dollars as part of a decades old back pay lawsuit.
The Dallas City Council voted to settle four of the six lawsuits on Tuesday for more than $61 million, but taxpayers could still be on the hook for more.
There are still two more lawsuits pending with 8,600 first responders who claim the city owes them back pay. If the city doesn't also settle those lawsuits, a verdict could cost taxpayers billions.
In 1979, voters passed the referendum that said if bosses got a raise, rank and file police and firefighters would as well. But in 1994, some first responders sued the city for not following the law.
“The City of Dallas did nothing wrong,” said Mayor Mike Rawlings, after the council signed off on settling four of the six lawsuits.
The settlement will come at a cost to Dallas home and business owners.
"So by doing this we are going to obligate the taxpayers of Dallas another 61 million dollars. Yes, plus the interest on those bonds,” said councilman Lee Kleinman.
Kleinman voted for the settlement, but also called out the police and fire associations.
“These unions have stuck it to the taxpayers for $125 million tax dollars a year. A year. And we're all just saying great,” Kleinman said.
Attorney Ted Lyon represents the 8,600 first responders who still have active claims against the city.
“How many times has he been ambushed? Zero. For him to impugn the police and fire fighters is deplorable,” Lyon said. “For 30 years the will of the people has been disregarded. "
Lyon said the city never offered an equal settlement to his clients. Such an offer would cost the city $160 million, but the damages from a potential jury award could top $2 billion.
“So many issues that have to be resolved, they're being appealed,” Rawlings said.
Lyon said his lawsuits, which were filed 23 years ago, are the oldest unresolved lawsuits in the state and possibly the country. They could be set for trial in 2018.