Somers appeal of $1.7 million Pucci award denied

By DANIEL HERATY
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – In a motion filed Jan. 30, three Detroit judges ruled against 19th District Court Judge Mark Somers’ appeal to stay without bond a $1.7 million judgement against him.

The motion, heard by U.S. District Court, Eastern District Judges Martha Daughtrey, Karen Moore and Ransey Cole, upheld a December decision by U.S. District Court, Eastern District Judge David Lawson ordering Somers to pay the settlement against former 19th District Court Adminstrator Julie Pucci while he appealed the ruling.

Prior to the judges’ ruling, Somers filed a motion Jan. 23 requesting a stay pending appeal for a June 2011 decision that he pay Pucci damages and lawyer fees after he allegedly fired her due to her live-in relationship with 19th District Court Judge William Hultgren.

In an email, Pucci said she was happy with the judges’ ruling and said it would be nice for Somers to “feel some financial pain.”

“All of his actions to date, delays and appeals are because it’s someone else’s money,” she said. “Not anymore.”

Pucci’s Detroit-based attorney, Joel Sklar, said because the bond was not paid and the appeal denied, the settlement can be collected. According to published reports, a hold was placed on one of Somers’ paychecks Jan. 19 in the amount of $3,300 to secure the payments.

“Because (Somers) has chosen not to post a bond,” Sklar said, “the court said you can go and execute the judgement.”

Sklar and Somers’ attorney, state Assistant Attorney General Michael King, agreed in an email Jan. 11 that Somers’ funds would not be withheld until the settlement was paid by the city, which funds the court. The city announced Jan. 18 it would not pay the settlement, claiming Somers was sued as an individual, not a city employee.

Sklar added the court’s responsibility must be determined by an agreement between the city and the court or through litigation, which the ruling claims is the likely outcome.

“… Judge Somers suggests that a bond is unnecessary because the judgement must be satisfied by the Court and the City of Dearborn,” the denial states. “That determination has not been made … and the district court has indicated that it is likely to be litigated.”

Sklar said he hopes the city pays the settlement and ends the matter.

“That’s what the city’s leadership should be contemplating,” he said. “I hope they are.”

(Daniel Heraty can be reached at dheraty@bewickpublications.com)

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