TML Risk Pool names Dallas attorney to lead defense of lawsuit filed by Mayor Perricone
The City of Mineral Wells has its lead attorney to defend it from a lawsuit filed by Mayor Christopher Perricone.
Attorney Tom Brandt, of the Dallas law firm Fanning Harper Martinson Brandt & Kutchin, P.C., was appointed this week to represent the city by the Texas Municipal League Intergovernmental Risk Pool, which the city uses to protect itself against lawsuits other than tort claims.
According to the Dallas firm’s website, Brandt is over its local government and employment law section. His practice is said to include “cities, counties, school districts, public officials and private sector clients in the areas of civil rights and employment law and has included significant cases at every level of the state and federal courts, including numerous cases before the appellate courts, the Texas Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and the United States Supreme Court.”
Brandt was named an “Impact Player of the Year” by Texas Lawyer in 2012 for his victory representing two Plano ISD principals in the so-called “Candy Cane Case” regarding students stopped from distributing religious materials on campus. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the potentially landmark case. Brandt at the time said the case was not about freedom of speech or religion, but about protecting teachers and the ability to make decisions in the best interests of an entire school.
The City of Mineral Wells is among 2,800 political subdivisions in Texas who are part of the TML Intergovernmental Risk Pool. Mineral Wells City Manager Randy Criswell is vice chair of the pool’s board of directors.
In general, the risk pool provides legal services for its members in cases of workers compensation claims, property disputes, errors of omission and liability damages. The pool does not provide services related to tort claims, claims that seeks damages based on alleged negligence, recklessness or other forms of wrongdoing.
“Cities can be sued obviously for more than one thing, or different things,” said Criswell. “What happens is with the pool, and the process that has happened up to this point, the pool is made aware of the nature immediately. I had conversations next morning.”
Perricone filed his suit against the city Nov. 4 in the 415th District Court in Parker County. The city was served notice the afternoon of Nov. 5, just prior to that evening’s city council meeting.
Criswell said while Brandt will serve as the lead attorney, it is likely the city’s contracted lawfirm will also participate and assist.
“Our city attorney and myself will probably be very much involved very much,” Criswell said. “The pool is calling the shots from this point forward.”
The city is responsible for the first $10,000 in legal expenses incurred by the risk pool. The pool then absorbs or pays costs beyond that, included any monetary amounts that might be awarded a plaintiff. The city attorney will bill the city for any work it performs associated to the suit.
“There is going to be extra cost from our attorney for the time they spend,” Criswell said. “I think that is going to be significant. We do budget for legal fees. We know we are going to incur those during the year. You don’t budget for a specific lawsuit.”
Perricone’s suit cites actions involving American Precision Ammunition and his wanting to investigate matters surrounding the termination of the tax abatement agreement; the complaint filed against him by City Clerk Peggy Clifton; council’s censure of the mayor stemming from that complaint; restrictions on the mayor setting special meetings and agenda items without needing a second council member support an agenda item; and asking the court to define the word “deal” as used in Section 28 of the city charter.
The suit seeks awards of damages, judgment interest, court costs, attorneys fees and other relief as determined by the court.
As of Thursday, the city had not answered the suit.
A call to Perricone’s San Antonio-based attorney David Earl was not returned.