Editor's note: This story has been updated to accurately reflect that John Wood resigned from his position with the Statham Police Department in February. He was not fired.
The City of Statham has settled a federal lawsuit over pay with former police officer John Wood.
The settlement agreement was approved by a 4-1 vote of the city council (with Hattie Thrasher opposed) at the end of the council’s Nov. 17 meeting following a closed session, and it was signed off on Monday, Nov. 23, by U.S. District Court Judge Richard W. Story in Gainesville.
Story granted the settlement agreement between the two parties and dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning it cannot be heard again.
Wood filed a complaint in federal court in May alleging the city had violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and Georgia law by not properly compensating him for all hours worked from May 8, 2016, through Feb. 18, 2020. The city countered that the lawsuit had no factual or legal basis.
While the city neither admitted liability nor was found liable in the case, under the settlement the city and the Georgia Interlocal Risk Management Agency, under which it is covered, agreed to pay Wood and his attorneys a total of $36,680. The city will make one payment of $18,000, minus any applicable deductions and withholdings, to Wood for back pay, and Wood agreed that he is responsible for any taxes on the payment amount. GIRMA will pay Wood’s attorneys $17,000 and $1,680 to Wood for liquidated damages.
The city also will provide only a “neutral employment reference” (position, dates of employment and salary) when future job opportunities arise for Wood, and Wood agreed to not seek employment with the city in the future. He also acknowledged he has no other pending claims or basis for future claims against the city stemming from events prior to the date of the settlement.
Wood turned down the job of interim police chief in December 2019 following the resignation of former chief Allan Johnston and resigned from his role as assistant chief to take a patrol position. He resigned in February following a public dispute with frequent city critic Catherine Corkren of Atlanta at a council meeting.
Wood, a resident of Jackson County, waged an unsuccessful Republican primary challenge there against incumbent Sheriff Janis Mangum in June, receiving 10 percent of the vote.