Summit County's 10-year War

The first time Scene caught up with Jack Eldridge, he was stuck in the middle of an eight-year-old legal battle with Summit County. In 1997, Eldridge, along with six others, sued Summit County for wrongfully firing them. The workers claimed that corrupt officials terminated their jobs for trumped up reasons. They won their case exactly five times. But everytime Eldridge & Co. won in court, Summit County would appeal the decision, hoping to avoid paying out a large setttlement. Then, in 2006, the Ohio Supreme Court finally told the county to quit with the appeals and pay up. By delaying the inevitable, the county pushed the total tab — including hundreds of hours in legal work, as well as settlement cash — well into the millions. As the case now approaches its 10th birthday, the workers have finally been promised that the end is in sight. Eldridge and his cohorts have been told that they should receive settlement checks by April. All seven will be compensated for nine years in backpay, including sick days and pensions. Three of the workers, including Eldridge, will even be compensated for promotions they would have likey received if they hadn't been fired. Eldridge's attorney, Nancy Grim, projects the total figure to be somewhere in the ballpark of $1,370,000. — Denise Grollmus