HIGH SPRINGS – A mediation hearing is scheduled for Feb. 22 in the legal case filed by Christian Popoli, the former City Planner who alleges he was wrongfully fired from the City of High Springs.

Popoli, who had chiefly been the City’s planner, was hired in 2006, but fired amid the shuffle of employees during the politically tumultuous spring of 2012.

On Monday, Nov. 5, 2012, the City filed a motion to dismiss the case citing statute of limitations. The motion was denied by the court after a hearing on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013.

On Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012, a new City Commission was seated in High Springs and a new mayor and vice mayor were elected. In addition, since the case began, a new city attorney and city manager have been hired.

Linda Rice Chapman, attorney for Popoli said, “It seemed after that change, all parties wanted the case to be resolved.” Chapman petitioned the judge to order mediation and in January 2013 the court issued an order to have all parties participate in mediation within 60 days. The mediation date of Feb. 22 falls within that 60-day period.

“What we are looking for in this case is compensation to Mr. Popoli for monetary damages for wrongful termination,” explained Chapman. “That would include lost salary and benefits, other related damages and attorney fees,” she said.

Chapman continued by saying, “Because of the way the City has responded to this lawsuit and their failure to make records available, attorney fees are higher than the norm in this case.” Citing records requests filed by Popoli beginning in March 2012, which to date have not been made available to him for litigation; Chapman explained Popoli has been greatly hampered in his ability to prepare for trial. “[Popoli] continues to ask for documents that are being denied him. We have had to find other ways in which to prepare for trial,” she explained.

Chapman said, “I believe the case will be resolved on Feb. 22. I think everybody involved wants to find a resolution that is acceptable to both sides.”

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