Efforts to settle Livingston Parish’s ongoing dispute with a former contractor appeared to stall Friday when Corey delaHoussaye said the Parish Council’s offer of $300,000 is not enough to convince him to drop his federal lawsuit for retaliation.
The council authorized the “one-time final offer” amount Thursday night, after rejecting a $579,000 settlement offer from delaHoussaye’s lawyer earlier this week, parish legal adviser Christopher Moody said.
Attorney Jill Craft told Moody on Tuesday that delaHoussaye would be willing to drop his federal lawsuit against the parish if the council agreed to pay in full his final invoice to the parish for wetlands mitigation work following Hurricane Gustav, plus $200,000. That final invoice, issued Dec. 8, 2011, totaled $379,517.54.
Moody said Friday the council’s counteroffer was intended to settle both delaHoussaye’s state court case regarding the unpaid invoice and his federal retaliation lawsuit. But Councilman Marshall Harris, who made the motion following an executive session Thursday night, said that was not his intention.
Harris said Thursday night that his motion was “to amend our original resolution on the C-Del case and to give Mr. Moody the authority to go and negotiate a settlement that was discussed in executive session.”
The $300,000 offer was then publicly disclosed at Councilman Ricky Goff’s request.
The council has passed several resolutions since 2012 regarding delaHoussaye’s claims, the first of which came before either lawsuit was filed.
“The motion I made was to try to settle the money we owed him on his final invoice, not anything federal,” Harris said Friday.
But Moody said, “It was very clear that everybody in the room understood that if we paid anything at all it would only be to resolve every matter. Pay something generous to settle all cases and stop the bleeding. And it was specifically in response to Jill Craft’s letter, which I handed out.”
Only the state court case was listed on the council’s meeting agenda, but Moody said it was discussed together with the federal case because both were part of the settlement negotiations.
DelaHoussaye said Friday that although he appreciates the council’s counteroffer — the first he said he has received since the council authorized Moody to settle the case in 2012 — he plans to push forward with the federal retaliation lawsuit.
“It’s just not enough to make up for the retaliation my family and I have gone through after I stood up for the parish and blew the whistle,” delaHoussaye said, referring to his claims that the parish’s Gustav debris removal contractors performed ineligible and, in some cases, illegal work.
DelaHoussaye claims his reporting of the ineligible work was the reason the prior Parish Council fired his company, C-Del Inc., and the reason he is facing prosecution on allegations he overbilled the parish.
“They did it to shut me up and shut down my business, and they have cost me everything,” delaHoussaye said Friday, noting he has had to sell vehicles and other property while his home falls into foreclosure. “Who wants to hire a guy named Corey delaHoussaye who’s in the press every week? No matter what I say or do, they’ve ruined my reputation.”
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