Ex-Finance Director For City Of Flint Settles Lawsuit For $250,000

Case Summary 

Type of Action:          Whistleblower Protection Act (Type I and II); ELCRA Retaliation and Violation

Injuries Alleged:        Loss of employment, loss of wages (past and future), emotional distress/mental anguish, loss of professional reputation

Name of Case:           Townsend v. City of Flint, et al

Court:                         Genesee County Circuit Court

Case No:                    11-97227-CZ

Tried Before:             N/A                

Name of Judge:          Judge Geoffrey Neithercut

Settlement:                 $250,000

Key To Winning:        Proving through deposition testimony that Plaintiff was discharged for reporting and participating in an investigation conducted by the State of Michigan.

Insurance Carrier:     unknown

Attorneys for Plaintiff:           Tom R. Pabst, Michael A. Kowalko, and Jarrett M. Pabst

Attorney for Defendant:        withheld

Description of Case:             


May 17, 2013 – Michael Townsend settled his Whistleblower Protection Act lawsuit against ex-employer, the City of Flint, and ex-supervisor, Gregory Eason.

            In 2011, Townsend, a longtime employee in the City’s finance department, was requested by the State of Michigan to provide a report to the State concerning the City’s financial status and the progress that was being made.  Upon receiving a truthful and accurate report, the State requested that Townsend and Mayor Walling travel to Lansing and participate in a hearing/meeting.   At the hearing/meeting, when asked direct questions, Townsend answered truthfully.

            Upon leaving the hearing, Mayor Walling expressed extreme displeasure with Townsend’s answers to State representatives, and told Townsend that he “sealed the City’s fate,” and that his comments in answer to questions were “irresponsible.”  Shortly thereafter, Townsend, who was simply performing his job and upholding his civic and patriotic duty to the City and the State, was fired.  This was shortly after an Emergency Finance Manager had been appointed by the State to run Flint instead of the Mayor and City Council.

            During the Mayor’s deposition, it was revealed that Mayor Walling had a discussion with the City’s Emergency Manager, Mike Brown, concerning the possibility of re-hiring Townsend, but told Brown not to let Townsend come back.

            Townsend felt additional pressure from another supervisor, Defendant Gregory Eason. During the course of Townsend’s employment, Defendant Eason demanded that he give “favors” to African-American vendors of the City, which Townsend, an African-American, refused to do.  Eason retaliated against Townsend by threatening to fire him.

            The case settled shortly before trial for $250,000, plus entitlement to a pension worth in excess of $350,000.

            Attorneys for Michael Townsend are Tom R. Pabst, Michael A. Kowalko and Jarrett M. Pabst.