ELKINS – The city of Buckhannon has settled a lawsuit filed by one of its former officers alleging it failed to properly compensate her for the care of its police dog.
U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey on July 1 ordered the dismissal of Loralie H. Hissam’s suit against the City and Buckhannon Police Chief Matt Gregory. Bailey’s order came three days after receiving a letter from Jeffrey Zurbach - partner in the Elkins law firm of Busch, Thompson and Zurbach, which was hired to defend the City and Gregory in the suit - dated June 19 that the sides reached a settlement.
The terms of the settlement were not disclosed in court records.
However, when contacted via telephone, City Attorney David W. McCauley said the city via its insurance carrier agreed to pay Hissam $15,000. The amount, he said, included the fees incurred by Hissam’s attorney, William C. Forbes.
Also, McCauley said Busch, Thompson and Zurbach billed the city about $4,000 for their legal work.
According to her suit, Hissam joined BPD in August 2008. Five months later, she became handler for Tess, a then-three-year-old Dutch Malinois.
For the next two years, Hissam says Tess was her responsibility on- and off-the-clock. At-home care of Tess included “boarding… training, grooming, feeding… and exercising [her] on a daily basis.”
Hissam maintains she daily provided Tess one to three hours of at-home care. This was in addition to the regular 40 hours a week she spent with Tess while on duty.
Neither the city nor BPD, Hissam claimed, compensated for any of her time spent caring for Tess while off-duty. After she resigned on Jan. 9, 2011, to become chief of police in her hometown of Reedsville in Preston County, Hissam says she addressed the matter with Gregory, but he never followed-up with her.
According to the Record-Delta, the city council, in accepting her resignation two years ago, voted to sell Tess and her equipment to Hissam for $3,000. They paid $4,500 to acquire her.
In her suit, Hissam alleged the City and Gregory violated not only federal Fair Labor Standards Act, but also state wage and hour laws in failing to compensate her for the all at-home care she provided Tess.
When asked if Hissam was still working in law enforcement, Forbes said she was, but didn’t know where.
“Yeah, she’s a cop in one of these small towns somewhere,” he said.
Hissam’s husband, Darin, is a BPD patrolman.
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, case number 13-cv-3