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Firefighters amend complaint against Morgantown; expert claims $6.4M in damages

An expert witness calculated the City of Morgantown underpaid its firefighters by over $4.6 million from June 7, 2014, to February 18, 2020, when the holiday pay issue was fixed.

The number was determined by Roger A. Griffith, a CPA since 1970, for the members of the International Association of Firefighters Local 313, the union for firefighters of the Morgantown Fire Department.

The report was completed on Sept. 13. Five of 348 pages — the summary — are attached as an exhibit to an amended complaint filed in Monongalia County Circuit Court on Sept. 14. 

The report determined the city owes firefighters, including back wages, interest and a 40% attorney’s fee, $5,250,792.64 for the time period of June 7, 2014, to June 7, 2019 — when the firefighters initially filed suit against the city.

The motion to amend complaint claims additional damages from June 7, 2019, to February 18, 2020, when the issue was fixed, and adds seven firefighters to the suit who were hired after the initial complaint was filed. 

In total, the report calculates the firefighters are owed $6,457,756.26.

According to the motion to amend complaint, the city refused to provide payroll records to the firefighters.

“…It is important to note the plaintiffs’ expert could only complete the expert report on past lost wages after the individual firefighters worked to get their own payroll history delivered to the expert,” the motion states. “The City refused to the [sic] provide the payroll records even though, as an employer, it is responsible to keep and provide those records.”

The report itself also states the city didn’t provide the best data.

“Although wage payment records for all individuals employed would have been the preferred data, the City produced the annual payroll summaries of all department personnel to review,” the report states. “… The annual payroll summaries did not provide the detail needed to reduce the calculated payroll by any amount paid for the holidays; therefore, no offset is provided. The conservative assumption is being made that (one-third) of all holidays occurred while the individual firefighter would have been in overtime status.”

The wages owed varies from individual to individual. 

One now-retired firefighter is owed $95,330.04 with interest, according to the report. With the attorney’s fee that comes to $133,462.06. One of the seven firefighters hired after the suit was filed is owed $8,847.91 before the attorney’s fee.

The City of Morgantown has not responded to requests about the accusation of payroll data being withheld or the amended complaint. This story will be updated when it does.

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