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Published: Friday, 5/16/2003

Lima union drops lawsuit challenging prison closing

LIMA, Ohio - A union representing guards at the Lima Correctional Institution yesterday dropped its lawsuit fighting the state's plan to close the prison - one day after agreeing to arbitration with the state.

Peter Wray, a union spokesman, said officials decided to drop the legal challenge rather than risk a loss of the arbitration agreement and because of concerns about a pending Ohio Supreme Court ruling over whether the Allen County court had jurisdiction.

Mr. Wray said the union learned that the high court likely would rule against the union. He said the union responded by making the tactical decision to withdraw the case.

In a news release, Irwin Scharfeld, the union's executive director, said, “Since state officials made it clear ... they were very pleased with the agreement to have the labor dispute addressed in arbitration, we intend to hold them to that agreement.”

After being granted a temporary restraining order by Judge Reed that prevented the state from sending out layoff notices or removing inmates from the prison, the union entered into an agreement Wednesday with state attorneys to settle the matter with an arbitrator. Arbitration is set to begin sometime in June.

State officials could not be reached for comment.

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