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Board of Estimates approves $105K in settlements

The city’s spending panel approved $105,000 in settlements Wednesday morning, as well as entered a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice over violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act by the Baltimore City Fire Department.

The city will pay $65,000 to an unidentified applicant for a fire dispatcher position who was not hired in 2008 after undergoing a medical exam at Mercy Medical Center, according to a Law Department memo prepared for the Board of Estimates. The applicant then filed a complaint of disability discrimination that was eventually forwarded to the Justice Department, which subsequently alleged the Fire Department’s practice of subjecting job applicants to medical exams was in violation of the ADA, according to the memo.

The consent decree requires the BCFD to conduct training for certain personnel on ADA requirements, amend its hiring policies and submit periodic reports to the Justice Department, the memo states. The consent decree was agreed to “in lieu of litigation and because the city agrees in compliance with the ADA,” the memo states.

In the second settlement, the city will pay $40,000 to an East Baltimore man who alleged he was falsely arrested and assaulted at his girlfriend’s apartment. Alex Dickson suffered “significant injuries including to his teeth, nose and ribs” in the August 2010 altercation, according to a separate settlement memo.

Police arrived at the apartment, where Dickson also lived, with a protective order allowing Dickson’s girlfriend to retrieve some of her possessions, the memo states. The protective order stated Dickson had thrown a television against a wall, punched a wall in front of two young children and may have been under the influence of drugs.

Dickson, who was “shirtless and sweating,” blocked an officer’s entry into the apartment, leading the officer to believe Dickson was going to push him. The officer grabbed Dickson to place him under arrest for assault, touching off a “significant physical struggle” involving two more officers, the memo states.

Dickson filed suit in Baltimore City Circuit Court in July 2013, seeking compensatory and punitive damages. The trial was scheduled for last week, according to online court records. Both sides agreed to a settlement “because of conflicting factual issues and legal concerns regarding the lawfulness of the arrests and given the uncertainties and unpredictability of jury verdicts,” the memo states.

The case was Alex Dickson v. Officer James Wilder, et al., 24C13004714.