NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Saturday will mark one month since Justin Fairfax and Wayne Lynch stood arm in arm in front of the federal courthouse in Norfolk, all but declaring victory in their lawsuit against the City of Virginia Beach and the police officer who killed Donovon Lynch.
Now, a judge has ordered attorneys for the city and Wayne Lynch back to the bargaining table to hash out terms, again.
Both parties had come to an agreement delivering $3 million to the estate of Donovon Lynch, memorialized in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by both sides. Then, in late December, it was reported that Wayne Lynch had effectively backed out of the deal, citing problems with language in the final agreement that hadn’t been in the MOU.
Those complaints center around the ability of Wayne Lynch to participate in future legal actions involving the officer or department, as well as the officer returning to regular duty.
“Imagine if the same officer kills another person and the second dead person and their estate file a negligent hiring or retention claim in the city based on what happened in this case,” attorney Joe Sherman said in a recent interview. “Mr. Lynch would want to participate in that case to help show the city knew what happened in this case and shouldn’t have kept the officer on the streets.”
The court order to meet and renegotiate came after a myriad of requests and arguments from virtually all the other interested parties to have a judge enforce the terms of the original agreement.
Attorney Joe Sherman announced he had taken over for Fairfax and Thomas Martin as lawyer for Wayne Lynch and the estate at the end of December. This week he told WAVY that he and family attorney Jeff Reichert would both be present for the mediation.
“Mr. Lynch agrees with the court that critical non-monetary terms require negotiation and agreement to finalize a settlement – something yet to occur in this case,” Sherman wrote in an email.
For their part, a representative from the city said that though they do plan to totally comply with the court order, they don’t intend on renegotiating material terms in the agreement.
“It remains the city’s firm position that the case was settled under the terms contained in the MOU which the Estate’s administrator, Wayne Lynch, signed,” they told us in an email. “The city is prepared to honor its commitment as set forth in the MOU.”
The court order to hash out a new deal does not deny the previous motions related to enforcing the original agreement. Instead, it gives the judge over a month to allow the parties to attempt to come to an agreement themselves before she makes an ultimate decision.
Attorneys for the parties have until February 17 to meet, at which point they’ll have to send a status update to the court for consideration.