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CASES AGAINST COUNTY ARE ALLOWED TO PROCEED

A state judge sided with three elected officials and a labor union Friday by allowing their court cases against Erie County's budget cuts to move forward.

All three officials -- Sheriff Patrick M. Gallivan, Comptroller Nancy A. Naples and County Clerk David J. Swarts -- said they hoped the judge's decision would prompt the County Legislature to consider a settlement.

"I would hope they would look at the judge's ruling and realize our case has merit," said Swarts. "If there was a settlement, the byproduct would be, this case would go away."

A lawyer for the county, the defendant in all the budget-related lawsuits, said the county will ask a higher court to reconsider Friday's ruling by state Supreme Court Justice Joseph G. Makowski.

In his rulings, Makowski rejected the county's request that all four lawsuits be dismissed outright.

The rulings also apply to the Civil Service Employees Association and its claim that the loss of 20 laid-off corrections officers creates unsafe working conditions at the Alden Correctional Facility.

All four parties are suing County Executive Joel A. Giambra and the County Legislature seeking money to restore jobs cut earlier this year as part of an effort to erase a $108 million deficit.

Makowski's ruling means the four lawsuits against the county will move forward with hearings scheduled to begin in about two weeks.

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