BEAUMONT - by Scott Lawrence - KFDM News has learned the City of Beaumont won a long-running legal dispute with a former firefighter.
An arbitrator Tuesday upheld the city's termination of James Mathews, according to information KFDM News has obtained from the City Attorney's Office.
Click here to read the ruling
In 2008 the city indefinitely suspended Mathews after investigators say he became involved in an altercation with a driver following a traffic accident. He was acquitted of assault charges in 2009.
An arbitrator ordered the city to reinstate Mathews and a court ordered that records of the arrest be expunged. The city appealed both rulings.
On August 31, 2011, the Ninth Court of Appeals in Beaumont ruled in favor of the city but ordered a rehearing before another hearing examiner. The city once again placed Mathews on indefinite suspension.
A different arbitrator reviewed the case and Tuesday also ruled in favor of the city.
"We believe the right outcome has finally been reached," City Attorney Tyrone Cooper told KFDM News. "The Chief had a tough decision to make. We believe she made the right decision based on the information she had and the investigation. As a fire chief, she's got to make tough decisions. The arbitrator's finding is helpful to her and the city. It's rewarding."
Cooper said the city is ready to move forward.
"It's important to move on," said Cooper. "Hopefully, everyone will recognize that enough is enough. This is it. This is the end. We should all move on from here. A lot of time and money has been spent by both sides.
The arbitrator ordered both parties to share the legal costs of the proceeding.
Cooper said the city's legal costs exceed $100,000.
Firefighters Association President Galen Key told KFDM News they're disappointed in the ruling. He said they'll discuss the ruling with Mathews to determine whether an appeal will be filed.
The City Attorney's Office says Federal Judge Ron Clark dismissed a federal lawsuit filed by Mathews, stating he failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.