By Bill Short
Board members took the action during their July 8 regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Al Bell and seconded by Alderman Don Lowry.
An authorizing resolution states that “various chemicals” have been known to contaminate the groundwater in many U.S. communities and “negatively impact” the lives of many residents.
It notes that Napoli Shkolnik PLLC, as special counsel, will investigate the groundwater on behalf of the city and seek any possible legal claim against responsible individuals and/or entities.
The resolution states that City Attorney Gerald Lawson has reviewed a Special Counsel Agreement and concurs that it is an “appropriate action” for the city to take on behalf of its residents.
City Finance Director John Trusty said, “There is no groundwater contamination that we’re aware of in Millington or in Shelby County.”
But he noted that the County Commission hired Napoli Shkolnik “sometime back,” because it specializes in this type of litigation.
If necessary, Trusty said, the law firm will file a suit on behalf of the city, as well as any other municipalities that “sign on” to the Special Counsel Agreement. He noted that, if the board did not approve the agreement, the city would not be able to “participate in any benefits of settlements.”
Trusty said the law firm will not file a suit against any “governmental or municipal entity” for any contamination that occurs. It will only “go after” the companies that manufactured the chemicals or that “caused them to be in the ground.”
He noted that the city will incur no expense from the agreement unless Napoli Shkolnik is “successful.” Then, all the firm’s legal fees and other expenses will be deducted from any settlements or awards.