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Sneyd seeks second appeal in lawsuit

Clerk and Master Brenda Sneyd is making her third and final attempt to sue Washington County for a 10 percent pay increase.
Sneyd submitted an application to the Tennessee Supreme Court last week requesting permission to appeal the June 28 ruling by the state Court of Appeals, which affirmed the trial court’s opinion that Washington County did not abuse its discretion in denying Sneyd the same 10 percent increase in compensation awarded to Circuit Court Clerk Karen Guinn in 2006.
Sneyd insists the reason she was denied the raise is because she will not remit the fees she earns as a special commissioner to the county.
Washington County denies this accusation and points instead to the marked differences between the two positions, including the number of courts served, annual cases filed, employees supervised, and the size of the budgets that must be managed.
However, Sneyd’s application states there is no proof the weighing and balancing evidence was ever presented to or considered by Washington County in making its decisions.
The application reads, “The undisputed facts of record are that this evidence was concocted by Washington County after the fact to support their summary judgment motion in the lawsuit. Nothing states that it was ever considered in the county’s decision.”
In addition, the application states, because serving more than one court makes Sneyd eligible for the additional compensation, “there is no need for weighing and balancing to determine eligibility, and denial on that basis is not rational.”
Art Fowler, Sneyd’s counsel, writes, “…the Tennessee Constitution requires that particular individuals within a class cannot be granted special rights and privileges…if one clerk in the class is granted an increase of salary, all other clerks in the same class must also be granted the same increase.”
Fowler also argues there is nothing in the statute that allows Washington County to consider the amount or source of an official’s “personal income” in determining the amount of salary to which she is entitled.
Sneyd earns fees for her work as a special commissioner that are not paid by the county or its taxpayers.
Washington County counsel Erick Herrin has never argued that, but questions how much of Sneyd’s personal income is earned during the hours she operates on the taxpayers’ dime. She earned $142,000 in special commissioner fees from 2006-2010.
The application also notes the Court of Appeals erred in denying Sneyd permission to charge the attorney fees in her lawsuit against her employer to the Office of Clerk and Master as a proper expense of the office.
The Supreme Court will consider the application and determine whether the case merits a hearing.
If the Supreme Court chooses not to hear the case, the Court of Appeals ruling stands.