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HILL v. SOUTHSIDE PUB. SCHS.

June 16, 1988

Sue Hill, Brenda Robinette, Kathy Kelly, Diane Baker and Jeanette Cordell, Plaintiffs
v.
Southside Public Schools; Bobby Smith, Individually and as Superintendent of Southside Public Schools, and Clive Blount, Individually and as Personnel Director of Southside Public Schools, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WOODS

 Henry Woods, United States District Judge

 The five plaintiffs in the case at bar were school teachers with the Southside Public School District who were terminated or resigned under pressure after they complained to the State Department of Education about the district's failure to adequately administer a special education program. The defendants were the following entity and individuals: (1) the Southside Public School District; (2) Bobby Smith, individually and in his official capacity as Superintendent of the school district; (3) Clive Blount, individually and in his official capacity as Personnel Director for the school district; (4) John S. Mitchum, (5) Vernon Cummings, (6) Larry Greenfield, (7) Dwayne Millikin, and (8) Will Roberts, individually and in their official capacities as members of the school district's board of directors; and (9) Tim Sisk, individually and in his official capacity as Principal of the Southside Elementary School. At the close of the July 10, 1986 trial, the jury returned verdicts against all the defendants in an amount totalling $ 215,000. The total reflected an award of $ 110,000 in compensatory damages and $ 105,000 in punitive damages. Each plaintiff received awards in various amounts to be paid by different defendants:

 
IT IS CONSIDERED, ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that plaintiff Diane Baker do have and recover against the Board of the Southside Public School District, against Bobby Smith, individually and as superintendent of the Southside Public Schools, and against Clive Blount, individually and as personnel director of the Southside Public Schools, the sum of $ 30,000.00 jointly and severally as compensatory damages. In addition, plaintiff Diane Baker shall have and recover the sum of $ 10,000.00 in punitive damages against defendant Bobby Smith and $ 10,000.00 in punitive damages against defendant Clive Blount.
 
IT IS CONSIDERED, ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that plaintiff Jeanette Cordell do have and recover against the Board of the Southside Public School District, against Bobby Smith, individually and as superintendent of the Southside Public Schools, and against Clive Blount, individually and as personnel director of the Southside Public Schools, the sum of $ 25,000.00 jointly and severally as compensatory damages. In addition, plaintiff Jeanette Cordell shall have and recover the sum of $ 10,000.00 in punitive damages against defendant Bobby Smith and $ 15,000.00 in punitive damages against defendant Clive Blount.
 
IT IS CONSIDERED, ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that plaintiff Sue Hill do have and recover against the Board of the Southside Public School District, against Bobby Smith, individually and as superintendent of the Southside Public Schools, and against Clive Blount, individually and as personnel director of the Southside Public Schools, the sum of $ 25,000.00 jointly and severally as compensatory damages. In addition, plaintiff Sue Hill shall have and recover the sum of $ 10,000.00 in punitive damages against defendant Bobby Smith and $ 15,000.00 in punitive damages against defendant Clive Blount.
 
IT IS CONSIDERED, ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Kathy Kelly do have and recover against Bobby Smith, individually and as superintendent of the Southside Public Schools, and against Clive Blount, individually and as personnel director of the Southside Public Schools, the sum of $ 5,000.00 as compensatory damages and in addition, the said Kathy Kelly do have and recover from each of said defendants Bobby Smith and Clive Blount the sum of $ 10,000.00 in punitive damages.
 
IT IS CONSIDERED, ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Brenda Robinette do have and recover from the defendant Bobby Smith, individually and as superintendent of the Southside Public Schools, the sum of $ 25,000.00 as compensatory damages and in addition, that she recover the sum of $ 15,000.00 as punitive damages from Bobby Smith, individually and as superintendent of the Southside Public Schools.

 See Judgment at A8-A10. The defendants thereafter appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit 827 F.2d 270. The appeal of the school district was filed and docketed as No. 86-2125EA. *fn1" The appeal of Messrs. Smith and Blount was filed and docketed as No. 86-2126EA. At some point prior to oral argument in the latter appeal, the parties entered into an agreement whereby the plaintiffs agreed to some type of release for Messrs. Smith and Blount and those defendants, in turn, agreed to dismiss their appeal and tender $ 100,000. This series of events occurred. The parties failed, however, to reduce their agreement to writing, and a dispute has now arisen as to the perimeters of their agreement.

 It would appear to the Court that the proper resolution of this dispute initially involves determining the extent of the release given defendants Smith and Blount in the agreement. They maintain that the agreement was for them to be dismissed by the plaintiffs in both their individual and official capacities.

 See Motion to Compel Satisfaction of Judgment at 7. Not surprisingly, the plaintiffs disagree with the defendants' understanding of their agreement.

 The plaintiffs maintain that the $ 100,000 paid by Messrs. Smith and Blount satisfied only the punitive damage awards. It is also their contention that these defendants were released in only their individual capacities and not in their official capacities.

 
Plaintiffs deny that they settled with defendants Blount and Smith for those defendants' portion of any compensatory damage award. Plaintiffs accepted $ 100,000 from Blount and Smith as full payment of the punitive damage award and agreed not to seek execution of the compensatory damage award against those two individuals. Blount and Smith were dismissed from the case in their individual capacity. Blount and Smith in their official capacity are synonymous with the government entity, the school district.
 
Each plaintiff's compensatory damage award was assessed jointly and severally against either the district or one or both individual defendants in their individual and official capacities. The parties did not agree to settle the compensatory award, nor did they agree to ...

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