Public Statement: Albany Lions Club v. City of Albany
In 2017, the Albany Lions Club filed a complaint in the United States District Court against the City of Albany and several City officials (Case No. 3:17-cv-05236). The City defendants responded with a counterclaim. The individual City defendants were later dismissed. On June 15, 2018, District Judge William Alsup issued an order granting in part and denying in part the parties’ cross-motions for summary judgment. The parties subsequently participated in a mediation session supervised by Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim and reached a partial settlement. The partial settlement could not be made public until after it received approval from the City Council and the Bay Cities Joint Powers Insurance Authority (the City’s risk management pool) and was documented in a written settlement agreement. The main terms of the partial settlement are as follows:
- The Lions Club will dismiss with prejudice all causes of action asserted in their complaint, including all claims for recovery of monetary damages, attorney fees, and court costs.
- The City will pay the sum of $125,000 to the Lions Club, which sum covers all monetary damages, attorney fees and court costs asserted by the Lions Club in their complaint and described in paragraph 1 above. Although not specified in the settlement agreement, $100,000 of this amount will be paid by Bay Cities.
- The settlement resolves all disputed legal claims asserted in the Lions Club’s complaint but does not constitute an admission of liability by any party.
- The parties will jointly request that Judge Alsup enter a final judgment on the issues presented by the City’s counterclaim – a necessary prerequisite for appeal.
- The parties retain their right to appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals with respect to all issues presented by the counterclaim. However, neither party will seek recovery of monetary damages, attorney fees, or court costs relating to the appeal from the other party.
The settlement agreement is a public document, and can be found here.
Additional Information Regarding the Albany Hill Cross
- Lion's Club Complaint Against the City - September 11, 2017
- City of Albany Answer & Counterclaim - November 14, 2017
- City of Albany Press Release - September 22, 2017
- Mayor's Statement- November 11, 2017
- Public Plea from the City of Albany to the Lions Club International - January 21, 2016
- City of Albany Settlement Offer to the Albany Lions Club - April 4, 2016
- Freedom from Religion Letter - April 6, 2017
- US District Court Decision - June 15, 2018
- US Appeals Court Decision - December 18, 2019
- Letter from Attorney Dhuey representing Nason to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit regarding the US Supreme Court's decision in American Legion v. American Humanist Ass. - June 20, 2019
- Letter from Attorney Nichols representing The Lions Club of Albany, CA to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit regarding the US Supreme Court's decision in American Legion v. American humanist Ass. - June 24, 2019
- Correspondence Received Regarding Albany Hill Cross
Statement read by Mayor Peggy McQuaid at the September 18, 2017 City Council Meeting:
The Albany City Council was dismayed to learn that in a departure from historical practice, the cross on Albany Hill was lit by the Albany Lions Club on Monday, September 11. Flags on city buildings and parks were flown at ½ staff on that day which is an appropriate, non-denominational civic remembrance of that terrible and tragic day. I am sure many Albany residents paused during the day for personal reflection.
I want to reiterate that the neither City Council nor the City of Albany endorses in any way the lighting of the cross for any occasion, religious or nationalistic, or supports its continued presence on public property
We have been notified that the Lions Club filed suit in federal court on September 11 against the City of Albany and several employees and council members individually. This civil action seeks damages and injunctive relief for deprivation of due process, equal protection, interference with the right of free speech, and interference with the free exercise of religion. The City will respond to the Lions Club's claims through the judicial process.
We appreciate the input and support received to date from the public and encourage you to continue respectfully sharing your concerns with the Lions Club as well as the City Council.