By Mike Steely
Speaking before the Knox County Pension Board on Monday, Attorney John Owings said that the Etters vs. Knox County suit is “pretty much on hold” since last month. He said all court actions are almost “at a screeching halt” and he doesn’t expect any action over the next 30 days.
“For now our litigation is in a holding pattern,” he said, adding that after “we all get vaccinated” then maybe it will come to an end.
Last month a scheduled hearing in Chancery Court was postponed because of the illness of one of the attorneys. The class action suit, which began in September of 2019 pits several citizens against Knox County government and goes back to actions by the pension board several years ago.
The board had been granting accumulated vacation pay in retiring benefits to sheriff’s department employees as an option to a one-time payout. The Knox County Law Director discovered this violation of policy and asked the pension board to correct their actions, which they did not. He then filed suit against them and the case went to Chancery Court and was near a ruling by Judge John Weaver. Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs then turned to the Knox County Commission to remove the law director from the suit and seek a settlement, which it did.
Mayor Glenn Jacobs then appointed an outside attorney to represent the county when the 12 citizens filed class action last year. Several hearings were held in Chancery Court with the appointed attorney and pension board attorney Owings. With delays and procedures the case remains open.