Koegel Meats sends African-American Flint residents a clear message: You can buy our hot dogs, but we don't want you making them

In the media:

Facts of the case:

Plaintiff Elana Tucker, suffered the lonely existence of being the only black employee out of 30 employees in the production packaging department at Defendant Koegel Meats, for over 20 years. Elana Tucker was subjected to vile and cruel racial harassment by her white co-workers, over and over again. And, when Elana turned to her white management for help, nothing was done to stop the harassment. In fact, after Defendant John Koegel was made aware that someone had carved the racially offensive word “N-I-G” into a stall in the women’s bathroom – which was meant to offend Plaintiff, the only black employee in the department – he allowed the word to remain on the stall for over 8 ½ months. While Elana continued to complain about this incident, Defendant John Koegel admitted that all of the people who “investigated” the “N-I-G” incident were white. Further, Koegel admitted that no written statements were taken nor were any interviews recorded. In fact, no report was even prepared!

During her 20-year employment with Defendant Koegel Meats, Elana also had to endure the following harassment by her white co-employees:

  • An Osama Bin Laden poster was placed onto the front of Elana’s work locker;

  • Honey was dumped down the front of Elana’s work locker;

  • Frequently, the bathroom lights would be turned off on Elana while she was using the bathroom;

  • “Gorilla noises” were made when Elana walked by;

  • Comments were made to Elana including: “I’m gonna whip you”, “You ghetto”, “Go back to the burnt down houses in Flint”; your lazy and stupid;

  • Another employee come at Elana with a knife.

Despite Elana’s numerous verbal and written notices to her employer of the racial harassment, nothing was done and Elana’s lonely journey against the vile racism she suffered and opposed continued. Then, to make matters worse, Elana’s union representative, Bill Crim – who was supposed to be there to protect Elana’s rights – became so sick and tired of her opposing racial harassment that he actually began working with the employer – behind Elana’s back – to get her fired! Shockingly, the evidence showed that Bill Crim, who is white, actually teamed up with Defendants to terminate Elana’s employment and put it in writing! The document was written to Koegel Meat’s Executive Director, Kathy Koegel, and stated that Bill Crim wanted “Elana to be terminated on Tuesday”, and that the discharge document should use the words, “reprimand pending discharge.” And, they followed through with their plan of attack to the letter, even using the same recommended phraseology, “reprimand pending discharge”, on the document terminating Elana’s 20-year employment. Further, their “plan of attack” specifically referenced the grievance filed by Elana on 3/30/16 wherein she alleged “harassment and racism”, which is direct evidence of retaliation against Elana for her protected activity of opposing racism.

Summary of the case:

Type of Action:    ELCRA Discrimination/Race, ELCRA Harassment/Race, ELCRA Opposition/Retaliation, Violations under the U.S. Constitution
Injuries Alleged:    Loss of job, lost wages, outrage/emotional distress/mental anguish
Name of Case:    Elana Tucker v. Koegel Manufacturing, Inc., and/or Koegel Meats, Inc., and John Koegel and Jeremy Leonard
Court:    Genesee County Circuit Court   
Case No:    16-107757-CZ
Name of Judge:    Hon. Joseph J. Farah
Settlement:    $145,000

Key To Winning:    Plaintiff’s Counsel was able to objectively prove, beyond any doubt, that Defendants, specifically Defendant John Koegel, knew that the racially offensive word “N-I-G” had been carved into a stall in the  women’s bathroom, as a way to intimidate and harass the only black employee in the department – Plaintiff – and, further, despite this knowledge, John Koegel allowed the offensive word to remain on the stall for over 8 ½ months.

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

Attorney for Defendants:    Withheld

Financial Executive forced out after reporting suspected fraud

In the media:

Facts of case:

    This was a Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) and Wrongful Discharge in Violation of Public Policy (WDPP) case in which the Plaintiff/employee, Glenn Gray, reported, amongst other things, suspected Medicaid fraud to his “public body” employer, and further, refused to go along with the said Medicaid fraud. For this, Mr. Gray (a 7-year employee with an excellent work history) was quickly suspended and then driven out, a constructive discharge. Because he is a well-educated and highly-qualified person, Mr. Gray quickly found new employment such that his past wage loss was limited to $17,898.

    In this case, the Defense made all the usual arguments, including especially (1) trying to convince the Circuit Court to “judicially legislate” onto MCLA 15.362 of the WPA that an employee’s report of a suspected violation of law must be “in writing” and (2) attempting to convince the Circuit Court that WPA and WDPP claims are always mutually exclusive.

    Fortunately, the Circuit Court Judge in this case was the same Judge who presided over the $232,500 verdict we won from the jury in the WPA case of Whitman v. City of Burton, 493 Mich. 303 (2013). Just as his ruling in Whitman was ultimately affirmed by the Michigan Supreme Court that MCLA 15.362 is a clear and unambiguous statute such that nothing is to be judicially legislated out of or onto it, he recognized in the case at hand that the reports do not have to be “in writing” for the reason that those words are not in MCLA 15.362.

    Additionally, the Circuit Court correctly recognized that a WPA cause of action and a WDPP cause of action are not always mutually exclusive. He recognized that that is the general rule, but that there are exceptions. Here, the Circuit Court followed the published case law which provides that because an employee’s refusal to violate a law is not something that is covered by the WPA, then a WDPP claim brought on this basis cannot be preempted.

    After Defendants’ Motion for Summary Disposition was denied, the case settled for the ADR Award of $125,000.

Black employee fired after complained of Disproportionate workload - case settles for $100,000

In the media:

  • Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Woman alleged race was factor in unfair treatment at work She was dismissed after confronting boss over job duties" 10/05/2017

Facts of case:

Plaintiff Stephanie Jones, a black woman, was approached one day by her white female counter-part that Stephanie was given more assignments than others and many that were not a part of her job.  Coincidentally, Stephanie was the only black woman in the position and the only one with the increase work load.  She confronted her white supervisor, opposing this obvious discrimination. Her white supervisor responded by setting Stephanie up to fail.

Specifically, her white supervisor made her job as onerous as possible by taking work from other, non-complaining employees and assigning Plaintiff it as extra required job duties. Stephanie, however, stayed true to her work ethic, and worked 15 hours per day to keep up.

After working through this for months, Stephanie finally went up the chain-of-command to complain about how she was being treated.  Stephanie went to her boss's white woman supervisor, for help and to complain, but this supervisor just “circled the wagons” and backed up what was happening. Together, they then resorted to manufacturing pretextual after-the-fact documents to try to justify wrongfully discharging Stephanie allegedly based on job performance. Within 10 days of complaining up the chain, black employee, Stephanie Jones, was fired.

In order to fire her Defendants created documents in such haste that they didn’t correlate with the real-time events, and even the author of them couldn’t explain how the plan to fire Stephanie appeared in her own personal handwritten notes, which were written a full 6 weeks prior to Plaintiff’s termination.

So, Defendants’ story they concocted story that they didn’t decide to fire Stephanie until a few days before they did so, blew up in their faces.  This phony, manufactured evidence didn’t go unnoticed – Defendants’ former black HR manager/employee, noted in a memo, “I do not have any notes or formal documentation about her performance to support a termination of her employment”. This same HR manager, testified that she believed Defendants were doing things in meetings that were “illegal”.

If these actions weren’t enough to prove the racism, Plaintiff’s position was then filled by a white man.

Though the case was potentially worth hundreds of thousands, because Stephanie was such a diligent and capable worker, Stephanie found new comparable employment within 9 months. The case settled for $100,000 through the Court’s ADR process.

Summary of the case:

Type of Action: ELCRA Discrimination/Race

Injuries Alleged: Loss of job, lost wages, outrage/emotional distress/mental anguish

Court: Genesee County Circuit Court

Name of Judge: Hon. Judith Fullerton

Settlement: $100,000

Date of Settlement: 9/13/17

Key To Winning: Defendants’ former black HR Manager/employee’s testimony which revealed that Defendants were manufacturing documents after-the-fact, in order to support a pretextual proffered business reason concerning Plaintiff’s job performance to cover up their discrimination against the black Plaintiff

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

Attorney for Defendants: Withheld

Eight Years To Get Justice: Former Teacher Settles Retaliation Case For $450,000

In the Media:

Description of Case:

    This case was tried to a jury verdict twice! In the first trial, Beverly Garvin, Plaintiff, sought damages from Defendant Detroit Board of Education and individual Defendants Mary Anderson, Laurie Washington, Debra Williams and Rosa Jackson, after being terminated from her job for alleged retaliatory reasons. In April, 2010, the first jury returned a verdict for Beverly Garvin in the amount of $750,000, which included $490,000 in punitive damages. However, the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed the verdict, dismissed the School District as a Defendant, and ordered a retrial against the individual Defendants only.

    On November 12, 2013, the second jury in the retrial returned a verdict for Beverly Garvin in the total amount of $721,400, finding liability against each of the individual four Defendants, including $52,000 in punitive damages against the head of HR for the School District, Debra Williams, who was found to have an evil motive and retaliatory intent to punish Beverly Garvin.

    In 2004, Garvin, an eight-grade teacher at Arthur Fischer School in Detroit, was told by some of her students that they were being raped and/or sexually assaulted at home and in foster homes. Garvin called Child Protective Services (“CPS”), as required by law, though Jackson, the school principal, ordered Garvin not to do so.

    Garvin was immediately demoted to a fourth-grade teaching position, and later taken out of a program that would have led to her being certified as a teacher, meaning that she would only be able to be a substitute teacher. Her salary was reduced from $52,000 a year to $26,000.

    Garvin later learned that one of her 9-year-old students had been beaten on the school’s playgrounds and forced to perform a sex act on an older school boy.

    When Garvin called CPS, she was ordered to spend all the school days in the teacher’s lounge, staring at the walls, teaching nobody. These types of rooms are euphemistically called “rubber rooms”, basically in school “jail cells” for teachers who administrators want to punish. Later, Garvin was escorted out of the school like a thief by security, suspended for five months, then transferred to another school, Murray Wright, where she won a “Teaching Excellence” award. In 13 years of teaching, Beverly Garvin had a spotless discipline record. After being punished in all of the above ways, the kangaroo court school hearing was held where the administrators found Garvin guilty of work rule violations, and recommended that she be fired. Then she was fired.

    The union grieved the matter, and the arbitrator held a favor of Garvin, saying she had not violated any work rules, and awarded her two years’ back pay for violation of the “just cause” Collective Bargaining Agreement.

    In trial court, plaintiff asserted losing her home, job and livelihood for calling CPS, and was retaliated against for doing so.

    Defendants contended that the arbitration award, in and of itself, should have prevented Garvin from making any further type of civil rights claim.

    The jury returned a verdict of $721,400, which, with interest, costs and attorney fees totals $1,097,044. The jury was asked to, and did, send a message to school administrators everywhere that juries will hold them accountable if they punish good teachers who had the courage to risk everything to protect children who can’t protect themselves!

    However, Defendants again appealed the jury verdict and the Court of Appeals reversed the jury verdict and remanded the case for a new trial – a third trial! – this time because the Circuit Court allegedly did not allow Defense Counsel enough time to cross examine the Plaintiff (Defense Counsel was limited to one hour, the same one hour time limitation that Plaintiff’s Counsel had to abide by). The Court of Appeals, at oral argument, stated to Attorney Pabst, “Mr. Pabst, you didn’t do anything wrong”; and, further, asked him if, “he wanted the case remanded to the same Judge or to a different Judge”, whereupon Mr. Pabst said, “yes, I want it remanded to the same Judge who did nothing wrong in my judgment.”

    In January of 2016, the Circuit Court ordered a Settlement Conference and also issued an Order requiring the City’s Emergency Manager to attend. After several hours of negotiations, the now 73-year-old Plaintiff, Beverly Garvin, settled for $450,000, thus ending an eight year legal battle.

 

Overview of Case:

Type of Action: 42 USC §1983 First Amendment Retaliation

Injuries Alleged: Retaliatory loss of job, career and dream of teaching young children

Name of Case: Beverly Garvin v. Detroit Public Schools, et al

Court: Wayne County Circuit Court

Case No: 08-120224-NO

Date: Case settled on 1/5/16

Tried Before: Two separate juries – one in 2010 and one in 2013. Case settled on 1/5/16, prior to the start of the third jury trial.

Name of Judge: John H. Gillis, Jr.

Name of mediator: N/A

Name of arbitrator: N/A

Demand: $75,000

Highest Offer: $0 – Defendants never made an offer until 1/5/16.

Verdict: The first jury verdict in 2010 was for $750,000. The second jury verdict in 2013 was for $726,000. The case was remanded by the Court of Appeals for yet a third trial and settled for $450,000 on 1/5/16.

Settlement amount: $450,000

ADR award: $75,000 (Plaintiff accepted, Defendants rejected)

Insurance carrier: None

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

Attorneys for Defendants: Gad Holland, Phyllis Hurks-Hill, W. Mack Faison

Key(s) to winning: Having a courageous and decent teacher like Beverly Garvin who cares more about the sexual safety of 9-year old little girls than her own job.

Former ABC12 Reporter/Anchor, Leslie Toldo, Settles Lawsuit With Station for $80,000

In the Media:

Description of Case:

ON-AIR TALENT FIRED FOR OPPOSING GENDER AND RACE BIAS

     Plaintiff Leslie Toldo was a well-liked local news personality, with loyal viewers and a relatable public image. She is well-known and respected as a person who will speak her mind when something or somebody is wronged. For 10 years she was the meteorologist, co-anchor, and segment creator for the local ABC station. She loved her job, the community loved her work, her work was nationally praised with an Emmy nomination, and, before she stood up against gender and racial bias, her employers praised her too; placing her at the top of the pay scale and called her “the future” of the Station.

     However, in 2014, shortly after receiving her last raise, Toldo complained three separate times about the preferential treatment she witnessed being given to male and African-American employees. She complained that decisions about work rules in the workplace, attendance rules, vacation rules, etc., were being decided with what appeared to be race and/or gender being used as a factor. She specifically complained that white women were on the bottom of the totem pole at the station. Not surprisingly, all Leslie wanted was to be treated equally.

     Her male supervisor didn’t like Leslie standing up for her rights. Less than 20 days after her last complaint to her male manager, Leslie Toldo was informed that her contract was not going to be renewed, and she was immediately "escorted" out of the building, and a ban was placed on talking to her. She was treated like a thief. Defendants were so mad that Leslie Toldo spoke up against them they also banned from the building, contrary to the station's current and past-practice of letting African-Americans finish out their contract terms after being non-renewed. Also, Defendant station enforced the Non-Compete Agreement against Leslie, something that they waived for employees.

     Defendants’ arguments failed at the summary disposition stage, and, shortly before the trial date, the case settled through ADR for $79,901.

     Shortly after being fired, Leslie Toldo was offered a position as a regular contributor and meteorologist at a competing news station in the same market, NBC 25.

Overview of Case:

Type of Action: ELCRA race and gender discrimination

Injuries Alleged: Wrongful discharge from approximately $80k/year on-air position

Name of Case: Leslie Toldo v,WJRT, INC., et al

Court: Genesee County Circuit Court

Case No: 14-103171-CZ

Tried Before: N/A

Name of Judge: Hon. Geoffrey Neithercut

Jury Verdict: N/A

Date of ADR Settlement: 11/10/2015

Offer to Settle: N/A

Most Helpful Experts: N/A

Allocation of Fault: N/A

Insurance Carrier: N/A

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

Attorney for Defendants: Withheld

Key to Winning: Thorough discovery which turner up key discrepancies in Defendants' own documents

 

MERRILL LYNCH HR MANAGER TO WOMAN EMPLOYEE COMPLAINING OF SEX HARASSMENT: "WHY DON'T YOU JUST F--- HIM"

In the Media:

Description of Case: 

MERRILL LYNCH HR MANAGER TO WOMAN EMPLOYEE COMPLAINING OF SEX HARASSMENT: "WHY DON'T YOU JUST F--- HIM"

(Big Bank And Wall Street "Old Boys' Network" Pay Female Advisor They Forced Out $275,000)

Debra DiPillo, a divorced mother raising a teenage child herself, was lured away from a good paying ($75,000 per year) job to work for Merrill Lynch as a Financial Advisor.  She was recruited by Defendant, Jerry Rhoden, and told that she would become a partner with the NMY Group when Senior Advisor, Renaldo Macciomei, retired, and would make so much money that she would be, “pissing on $75,000 per year”, to use his phrase.  

Shortly after starting her new position, Plaintiff's older, married male supervisor, Defendant Renaldo Macciomei, who was supposed to be training her, began conjuring up reasons for them to be alone, and started making sexual advances towards her, saying he "felt a connection", and "I really want to kiss you right now".  Plaintiff politely rebuffed the advances at first, but as the advances became more constant, she reported them to the Managing Partner and HR functionary, Defendant Jerry Rhoden. 

However, when DiPillo went to the person Merrill Lynch designated to hear sexual harassment complaints, Defendant, Jerry Rhoden, with her concerns about Macciomei’s unwelcome sexual advances, Rhoden looked Plaintiff in the eye, with a straight-face, and said –"Why don't you just f—k him?  Maybe then he'll retire …"(!!!)

Apparently at Merrill Lynch, it is alright for a male employee, including Defendant Macciomei, to solicit sex from female subordinates and co-workers, and treat them like in-house work concubines.  

The following morning, Rhoden proceeded to retaliate against the victim, DiPillo, by relocating her desk to a remote corner of the office.   He claimed that he had made a call to HR, and they told him to do so, but that was false.  He did not make a call to HR, nor even address the issue.  He simply made a mockery of her and told her that if anyone asked any questions as to why she was being relocated in the office to respond, “My numbers were down and Jerry thought it would be better for me to be in a less busy part of the office so I can focus better.”  Obviously, Defendant Rhoden silently made a decision to himself that the amount of money Macciomei brought in was more important than the honor and dignity of this single working mother – or the law of Michigan.

A month or so passed and DiPillo continued to receive advances and lunch invitations of Macciomei, all the while being put in the corner and accepting such treatment in order to keep food on the table for her and her son.  After DiPillo’s persistent refusals/rejections, Macciomei let DiPillo know that there were “no guarantees” of her Partnership status after his retirement.  The guarantee was now null and void.  DiPillo was forced to make a stand:  accept Macciomei's advances and stay employed by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, or be forced out by him.  She chose to not accept his sexual advances and was forced to leave Bank of America Merrill Lynch, her dignity trumped.

As despicable as the individual Defendants' conduct was, Defendant Merrill Lynch's formal legal response to the lawsuit filed by DiPillo was reprehensible and vicious. When analytically reduced to its legal essence, Defendant Merrill Lynch's defense position in the lawsuit was – 

(1) Defendant Jerry Rhoden did not say, "Why don’t you just F--- him.   Maybe he will retire early", and that DiPillo was lying about that;

(2) But even if Defendant Rhoden did say it, he was "only joking"; and further

(3) Even if he wasn't joking, DiPillo probably "wanted it" anyhow, and that the sexual advances were not "unwelcome".

Defendant Merrill Lynch published these vicious falsities throughout the public record in Genesee County Circuit Court, and in oral argument in front of large groups of people. On August 20, 2015, Defendants, through their attorneys, actually contacted trial Judge Archie Hayman asking the Judge to stop publication of this write-up, which Judge Hayman, to his great credit, refused to do. 

The case went to ADR where a three member panel of prominent Genesee County Attorneys issued an award of $275,000 in favor of Plaintiff and against Defendants Merrill Lynch, Jerry Rhoden and Renaldo Macciomei.  The case resolved through the ADR process for $275,000.  To her great credit, DiPillo refused to accept Defendants' offer of more money to "keep this all confidential", instead choosing to (1) clear her name of the reprehensible slanders Defendant Merril Lynch used to defend this lawsuit, and (2) let other women know that they have rights under Michigan law.

Overview of Case:

Type of Action: ELCRA quid pro quo sex discrimination and sexual harassment

Injuries Alleged: Constructive discharge

Name of Case: Debra DiPillo v. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc., et al

Court: Genesee County Circuit Court 

Case No: 14-103504-CZ

Tried Before: N/A

Name of Judge: Hon. Archie Hayman

Jury Verdict: N/A

Date of ADR Settlement: 8/14/15

Last Offer to Settle: Case settled through ADR process

Most Helpful Experts: N/A

Allocation of Fault: N/A

Insurance Carrier: N/A

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

Attorney for Defendants: Alice Kokodis, and Paul Wilhelm 

Ex-worker claimed weight discrimination, wrongful discharge CEO allegedly made derogatory comments, supervisor fired her

In the Media:

Type of Action:

(1) ELCRA Discrimination (Weight)

(2) Wrongful Discharge in Violation of Public Policy

Injuries Alleged: Loss of job, lost wages, outrage/emotional distress/mental anguish

Name of Case: Jane Doe v. Big Manufacturing Co.

Court: Saginaw County Circuit Court

Case No: withheld

Tried Before: N/A

Name of Judge: Hon. Robert Kaczmarek

Insurance Carrier: N/A

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

Attorney for Defendants: Withheld

Key to Winning: Recognizing a textbook wrongful discharge in violation of Public Policy cause of action from the facts disclosed at depositions.

Tom R. Pabst, P.C. Makes Michigan Lawyers Weekly's 2014 Million-Dollar Verdicts & Settlements Issue Twice

Michigan Lawyers Weekly Million-Dollar Verdicts & Settlements 2014 Issue

Counsel argued driver in fatal wreck was asleep at wheel

  • Moore v. Art Van, et al., Oakland County Circuit Court; 14-139524-NI; Dec. 3, 2014

  • Settlement amount: $1,375,000

Ex-school official claimed smear campaign

  • Knox-Pipes v. Genesee Intermediate School District, Genesee County Circuit Court; 11-97246-CK; March 12, 2014
  • Verdict amount: $1.08 million

 

ETHNIC INTIMIDATION/ASSAULT AND BATTERY CASE SETTLED THROUGH CASE EVALUATION FOR $60,000

In the Media:

Description of Case:

Monica is a gay woman, and everyone at Defendant Vic Canever knew this. She was a car detailer/cleaner for the Vic Canever dealership.  She came in and did her job well, if not better than any of her male co-workers. When first hired, she was told by her immediate supervisor, “I can’t believe they hired you!  A woman cannot do this work!” Additionally, some time before her termination of employment, Monica was subjected to sex discrimination and sexual harassment, as well as numerous and forceful touchings and assaults and batteries. Just one example of Defendants' acts of intimidation and assault and battery was when Plaintiff was cornered in the workplace and her male co-workers pressed their genitals into her back, and actually had that co-worker pump and grind against her in a repeated motion, essentially dry-humping her, while telling her, “I will turn you straight!”. In addition to this, she was subjected to daily questions about her sex life. She was also subjected to co-workers telling her, “You’ll clean the bathroom because that’s a woman’s job!”.

Plaintiff reported these incidents to her supervisors, who not only declined to get involved, but shrugged off what she was going through, and told Plaintiff, “Oh, you know how Glenn (her assaulter) is.” In fact, Plaintiff repeatedly complained to Defendant Employer to stop the above conduct, but they deliberately failed and/or refused to do so.

Legally, the type of "sex stereotyping" Defendants subjected Plaintiff to is specifically actionable pursuant to the U.S. Supreme Court case of Price Waterhouse v Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228, 235 (1989), where the plaintiff was told to, "for God's sake, put some jewelry on, put some perfume on, dress and act like a woman if you want to make partner!". And, same sex harassment was also made specifically actionable by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc, 523 US 75 (1998). Most importantly, what made this an extremely dangerous case for Defendants to try in front of a jury is Michigan's Ethnic Intimidation law, found in MCLA 750.147(b), which provides that if there is gender discrimination and actual threats or contact – such as dry-humping a woman to "screw her straight" – whatever damages the jury awards are tripled!!!

 

This case settled through an Genesee County ADR panel for $60,000.

Attorneys for this case were Tom R. Pabst, Michael A. Kowalko, and Jarrett M. Pabst.

-----

Case Info:

Type of Action: ELCRA Ethnic Intimidation, Hostile Work Environment, Opposition/Retaliation, and Assault and Battery

Injuries Alleged: Loss of income, mental anguish, emotional distress

Name of Case: McVay v. Vic Canever Chevrolet, et al

Court: Genesee County Circuit Court

Case No: 13-101477-CZ

Name of Judge: Judge Judith Fullerton

ADR/Settlement: $60,000

Key to Winning: Defendants' fear of Ethnic Intimidation statute's trebled damages in front of a jury

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

Attorney for Defendant: Withheld

Older X-Ray Technician Fired While Younger Employees Not Even Disciplined - $225,000

In the Media:

Description of Case:

GENDER AND AGE DISCRIMINATION CASE SETTLED THROUGH CASE EVALUATION FOR $225,000

Gary Sergent was a hardworking and long-term x-ray technician in the Genesee County community, who spent his last 15 years working for Defendant Hospital. Unfortunately, there was a change at the hospital such that female management started to weed out all of the older employees. This was done through a selectively enforced vicious and phantom “patient mis-identification” rule, which Defendants claimed Plaintiff and other older employees violated. This tarnished their records in such a way that if they dared choose to not retire early, then they knew they wouldn't be able to find work elsewhere in the medical community.

The phantom and selectively enforced “patient identification rule” that Defendant Hospital used to hammer the older employees was never finalized by management, even after multiple complaints and concerns were raised by the staff and union. So the unanswered question became, “Why would Defendants have a supposed safety rule to protect patients, but never properly inform anybody or train the employees who are supposed to implement the rule. In the end, there was only one answer that made sense; it was a deliberately ambiguous and amorphous rule they selectively enforced because it was a great way to terminate older employees when they wanted to.

Another problem for Defendant Hospital was they had younger employees admitting in writing to knowing what the rule required, and not following the rule. Management knew about this and never issued the younger employees any disciplines, while at the same time threatening the older employees for their violations of this very same rule. After Plaintiff and other older male employees were fired, when shown all of the disciplines, one of Defendants' decision-makers had to admit that the disciplines “seemed to be coming frequently” for these older employees.

The evidence showed that Defendant Hospital had a modus operandi/de facto policy of giving older male employees a deluge of write ups in a short period of time, and then pressuring them to resign or be fired, which is classic evidence of discrimination in the form of dissimilar treatment of similarly situated individuals.   

-----

Case info:

 

This case settled through an Genesee County ADR panel for $225,000.

Attorneys for this case were Tom R. Pabst, Michael A. Kowalko, and Jarrett M. Pabst.

Type of Action: ELCRA Gender/sex and Age Discrimination

Injuries Alleged: Loss of income, mental anguish, emotional distress

Name of Case: Sergent v. Genesys Health Systems, et al

Court: Genesee County Circuit Court

Case No: 14-102138-CZ

Name of Judge: Judge Richard B. Yuille

ADR/Settlement: $225,000

Special Damages: N/A

Date of Verdict: N/A

Key to Winning: Showing Defendants' pattern of terminating older male employees by using selective enforcement of company rules/policies

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

Attorney for Defendant: Withheld

$150,000 Verdict for 2 Police Officers Who Spoke Up to Protect Fellow Officers and Citizens

In the Media:

Michigan Lawyers Weekly: "Cops claimed chief retaliated, didn't promote - One said he was called liar, slanderer"

Press Release:

Type of Action: Whistleblower Protection Act, ELCRA Discrimination

Injuries Alleged: Lost wages, mental anguish, emotional distress and outrage

Name of Case: Phillip Randazzo and Booker Snow v The City of Inkster, Ron Wolkowicz and Hilton Napoleon

Court: Wayne County Circuit Court

Case No: 13-003917-CZ

Tried Before: Jury

Name of Judge: Hon. John H. Gillis, Jr.

Verdict/Settlement: $125,000 for Phillip “Chuck” Randazzo

$24,000 for Booker Snow

Special Damages: A Motion for Attorney Fees and Costs in the approximate amount of $50,000 is pending, which would bring the total award to approximately $200,000

 

Date of Verdict: September 10, 2014

Last Offer to Settle: ADR for $40,000 for each Plaintiff, Plaintiffs rejected, Defendants rejected. Defendants never made an offer to settle.

Most Helpful Experts: N/A

Key To Winning:

Allocation of Fault: N/A

Insurance Carrier: N/A

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

Attorney for Defendant: Withheld

Description of Case:

 

TWO CITY OF INKSTER POLICE OFFICERS WIN THEIR WHISTLEBLOWER SU­­IT AGAINST CITY OF INKSTER, ITS EX-MANAGER AND EX-POLICE CHIEF HILTON NAPOLEON

 

Inkster Police Officers Chuck Randazzo, a white man, and Booker Snow, and African-American man, were good and competent and loyal police officers who received awards for courage and exemplary service from Defendant Police Chief Hilton Napoleon before they blew the whistle. However, both police officers voted “no confidence” in the leadership of Chief of Police Hilton Napoleon, because he was violating important rules and regulations regarding how to act in (1) hostage situations, (2) barricaded gunman situations and (3) shootouts in general, thus endangering the lives of police officers under his command, as well as the lives of the citizens of Inkster. This written vote of “no confidence”, which was backed up by a majority of the police officers in the City of Inkster, was then sent to various public leaders, including (1) Governor Snyder, (2) the Inkster City Council, (3) the then-Manager of Inkster, etc., trying to get someone to address these issues before police officers and/or innocent citizens of Inkster got killed.

Defendant ex-Police Chief Napoleon Hilton reacted with extreme anger to the written vote of “no confidence”, which included the following acts and/or omissions:

(1) Writing a response calling Chuck Randazzo a liar, a slanderer, and charging him with approximately 20 different charges of malfeasance and/or neglect as a police officer;

(2) Writing a letter to the head of the union (because Chuck Randazzo was the President of the Local) and alleging in writing that Chuck Randazzo’s motives were racial, meaning that he’s doing this because he doesn’t like a black man being police chief;

(3) Calling Booker Snow a “dumb black m-f for “stabbing (Defendant Napoleon) me in the back” and doing whatever these white guys (Chuck Randazzo) want you to do”;

(4) Giving a statement to the Free Press reporter, who published the comments in the Detroit Free Press, “That some of the police officers under my command should not be police officers. They are not fit to wear a badge”, etc., being an obvious reference to Chuck Randazzo;

(5) Telling other command officers, including Lt. Barry O’Brien, “Randazzo’s got to go” at a meeting to discuss the written vote of “no confidence”;

(6) Calling three “Chief’s Meetings” also known as “Loudermill hearings”, which means the Chief basically would have said to Chief Randazzo, “I’m going to fire you, you’ve got one minute to convince me why I shouldn’t”, each of which three meetings was cancelled at the last moment;

(7) Not promoting Chuck Randazzo and/or Booker Snow to positions of “acting Sergeant” when they had more seniority and more competency and experience than the three white men promoted to the acting sergeant position.

In fact, one of the three white men promoted to the acting sergeant position had been fired two times before, which came as a total surprise to Defendant Napoleon on the stand, which is ironic because he told the jury that he was one of the top five investigators in the United States, and even was so good as an investigator that he could objectively investigate himself. Yet, he did not know that one of the men he promoted to “acting sergeant” had been fired two times before!

In one of the most poignant moments of the trial, Chuck Randazzo actually broke down and cried when describing how Defendant Napoleon wrecked his police career by falsely branding him “a racist, a liar, incompetent, and someone who should not be wearing a badge”. Chuck Randazzo had previously received awards for catching bank robbers when shots were fired, showing courage in the line of fire, and being an exemplary police officer, all of which occurred before he blew the whistle.

Significantly, Defendant City hired an independent agent to investigate its own police department, whereupon Defendant City’s own independent investigator found (1) that the Plaintiffs’ whistleblowing vote of “no confidence” was “well-deserved”, (2) that the safety of police officers had been compromised by Defendant Napoleon, (3) that the police department was “leaderless” under Defendant Napoleon, and (4) Defendant City’s own expert recommended that Defendant Napoleon “must go as the police chief”, and a new police chief must be hired. All of these “findings” were exactly what Plaintiffs had said in their whistleblowing vote of “no confidence”. So the jury witnessed the spectacle of one co-Defendant, Defendant City, blaming the other co-Defendant, Defendant Napoleon, taking exactly the position the Plaintiffs were asserting in the litigation. Defendants hammered and pounded at trial to the jury that Defendant Inkster was broke, could not pay their bills, they were low on money, and they were so low on money that they had to reduce the police department to a skeleton crew of 25 police officers. This was Defendants’ major “defense” at trial.

 

The jury found in favor of Chuck Randazzo, and specifically found as follows:

 

Did Phillip Randazzo, Plaintiff, engage in protected activity under the Michigan Whistleblowers’ Protection Act?

Yes

Was the protected activity Phillip Randazzo, Plaintiff, engaged in one of the reasons that made a difference in Defendants’ actions against Phillip Randazzo, Plaintiff?

Yes

Did Phillip Randazzo, Plaintiff, suffer any damages as a result of the Defendants’ actions against Phillip Randazzo, Plaintiff?

Yes

What is the total amount of economic loss to the present date suffered by Phillip “Chuck” Randazzo, Plaintiff?

$32,000

What is the total amount of FUTURE economic damages to be suffered by Phillip “Chuck” Randazzo, Plaintiff?

$60,000

What is the total amount of non-economic loss to the present date suffered by Phillip “Chuck” Randazzo, Plaintiff?

$18,000

What is the total amount of FUTURE non-economic loss to the present date suffered by Phillip “Chuck” Randazzo, Plaintiff?

$15,000

Total Damages: $125,000

The jury found in favor of Booker Snow, and specifically found as follows:

Did Booker Snow, Plaintiff, engage in protected activity under the Michigan Whistleblowers’ Protection Act?

Yes

Was the protected activity Booker Snow, Plaintiff, engaged in one of the reasons that made a difference in Defendants’ actions against Booker Snow, Plaintiff?

Yes

Did Booker Snow, Plaintiff, suffer any damages as a result of the Defendants’ actions against Booker Snow, Plaintiff?

Yes

What is the total amount of economic loss to the present date suffered by Booker Snow, Plaintiff?

$6,000

What is the total amount of FUTURE economic damages to be suffered by Booker Snow, Plaintiff?

$3,000

What is the total amount of non-economic loss to the present date suffered by Booker Snow, Plaintiff?

$16,000

Total Damages: $24,000

Plaintiffs were never disciplined, and did not lose their jobs. This case is significant because it shows that juries will protect police officers who have the courage to speak up and do the right thing to protect citizens in the community and their fellow police officers when their lives are jeopardized by incompetent police leadership at the top.

 

*For more than 30 years, veteran civil rights attorney Tom R. Pabst has been successfully representing people in Genesee County and surrounding areas. His vast experience has proven effective in protecting the rights of his clients, and thwarting the injustices they have been subjected to. Time and again, his track record has shown that Tom R. Pabst is one of the leading civil rights attorneys in the State of Michigan.

Jury Finds that GISD Firing Beverly Knox-Pipes Was A Million Dollar Mistake

In the media:

Description of Case:        

TYPE II WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION ACT AND BREACH OF CONTRACT CAUSES OF ACTION = TOTAL VERDICT $1,080,000.00

Sixteen year loyal employee and Assistant Superintendent Beverly Knox-Pipes was instrumental in the development of GenNET, a fiber optic tele-network system used by Defendant GISD to disseminate and provide great learning programs to school children in 21 different school districts throughout Genesee County.  One of the schools, Clio, wanted out of the long-term contract it had signed with GISD because, it claimed, Clio was being forced to pay (as “costs” passed through) for multiple lavish trips, booze, and big tips by male board members and the former male superintendent of GISD.  When GISD sued Clio to enforce the contract, Clio counter-sued to recover monies it paid for the men’s multiple extravagant trips.  

DEFENDANT LISA HAGEL’S PLAN OF ATTACK #1 = “RESIGN OR BE FIRED”

    Beverly Knox-Pipes helped GISD’s attorney in the lawsuit, and was subpoenaed to testify.  The new Superintendent, Defendant Lisa Hagel, knew that Beverly Knox-Pipes and the former male Superintendent previously had a sexual affair outside the workplace, which the evidence showed ended well before Defendant Lisa Hagel signed a 3-year contract with Beverly Knox-Pipes on September 1, 2011.  New Superintendent Defendant Lisa Hagel did not “trust” Beverly Knox-Pipes to keep information secret from Clio and the other School District Superintendents, so Defendant Hagel fabricated and concocted a $480 cell phone bill that she claimed Beverly was responsible for, and, incredibly, gave Beverly a “resign or be fired” ultimatum stating, “I have enough to terminate your employment right now” ($480 disputed phone bill).  This “resign or be fired” ultimatum was given in the Fall of 2011.  Superintendent Defendant Lisa Hagel warned Beverly:  if you don’t resign, all of this might become public.  

    To her great credit, Beverly Knox-Pipes refused to resign, stating, “I have done nothing wrong, I am not going to resign”, whereupon Defendant Lisa Hagel quickly settled the Clio lawsuit in which Beverly had been scheduled to be deposed.

DEFENDANT LISA HAGEL’S PLAN OF ATTACK #2 = SMEAR BEV KNOX-PIPES

    Defendant Lisa Hagel then engaged in an ugly smear campaign which included – 

(1)    Creating a 4-inch thick book which she testified she created, and tried to pass off as a “forensic audit”;

(2)    Paying $76,000 of taxpayer money to a CPA firm and attempting to justify multiple charges she now claimed Beverly was responsible for including 10+ years of previously approved trips that were now “disapproved”;

(2a)    Paying Beverly Knox-Pipes approximately $100,000 of taxpayer money to sit home and teach nobody for what Defendants’ called “paid administrative leave” while Defendant Hagel created and concocted a reason to fire Beverly;

(3)    Holding press conferences to publicly announce that “Beverly Knox-Pipes used a cell phone to further a 10-year sexual affair with a former male Superintendent”;

(4)    Exhorting the Genesee Prosecuting Attorney and the Lapeer County Prosecuting Attorney to prosecute Beverly Knox-Pipes criminally for alleged embezzlement/misappropriation of more than $87,000 in taxpayers’ monies;

(5)    When the Prosecuting Attorney rejected Defendant Lisa Hagel’s book, and rejected Defendant Lisa Hagel’s story, Defendant Hagel issued a “press release” indicating how “disappointed” she was that Beverly would not be prosecuted criminally;

(6)    Defendants changed/altered certain documents memorializing the October/November 2011 Hearings where the “resign or be fired” ultimatum was given, so as to leave out references to GenNET and the lawsuit.
 

   Finally, the truth came out in front of the jury when male Board Member Mr. Ragsdale was asked, “Why did you spend $76,000 to create a 4-inch book when you already had enough to fire her before creating the book?”, whereupon Mr. Ragsdale answered, “To create a defense to this lawsuit”!!  

    While Tom R. Pabst was picking a jury and giving his opening statement, Attorney Jarrett Pabst and Legal Assistant Katie Lyon, went through two boxes of documents subpoenaed from Defendants’ CPA firm and found a document which read, in pertinent part:

“Question to address – why are these all of a sudden a problem when b4 they were approved [trips that Beverly Knox-Pipes took]”.

Indeed, Tom R. Pabst asked Defendants’ witnesses to answer that question for the jury, but they had no good answer.

    The jury was out deliberating for 2 days, and came back with a verdict as follows:

$760,000  --  Type II Whistleblower violation
$320,000  --  Breach of Contract 
           $0  --  ELCRA Discrimination
TOTAL VERDICT = $1,080,000

    A motion is pending to assess more than $160,000 in attorney fees and costs, which, together with interest, will be the total verdict amount to approximately $1,290,000.

*For more than 30 years, veteran civil rights attorney Tom R. Pabst has been successfully representing people in Genesee County and surrounding areas.  His vast experience has proven effective in protecting the rights of his clients, and thwarting the injustices they have been subjected to.  Time and again, his track record has shown that Tom R. Pabst is one of the leading civil rights attorneys in the State of Michigan.

 

Case Information:

Type of Action:    (1)    Type II Whistleblower Protection Act
(2)    Breach of Contract
(3)    ELCRA Discrimination/Gender

Injuries Alleged:    Suspension/loss of job, lost wages, outrage/emotional distress/mental anguish/falsely accused of embezzling $87,000+ and Defendants sought to have Plaintiff prosecuted criminally

Name of Case:    Beverly Knox-Pipes v. Genesee Intermediate School District and Lisa Hagel

Court:            Genesee County Circuit Court    

Case No:        11-97246-CK

Tried Before:        Jury Verdict

Name of Judge:    Hon. Judith Fullerton

Jury Verdict:        

            (1)    $760,000 – WPA Violation
            (2)    $320,000 – Breach of Contract
            (3)    No cause – ELCRA Discrimination
TOTAL VERDICT - $1,080,000 + approximately $160,000 in attorney fees and costs

Date of Verdict:    3/12/14

Last Offer to Settle:    $450,000 by Plaintiff following summation
Non-unanimous ADR award of $375,000 accepted by Plaintiff and rejected by Defendants

Most Helpful Experts:    N/A

Key To Winning:    Using Defendants’ own altered/changed documents, and documents and records and smoking gun admissions to prove Plaintiff’s claims

Allocation of Fault:    N/A

Insurance Carrier:    N/A

Attorney for Plaintiff:    Tom R. Pabst, Michael A. Kowalko and Jarrett M. Pabst, with great assistance from Legal Assistant Katie Lyon

Attorney for Defendants:    withheld – he didn’t lose the case, Defendants’ altered documents and smoking gun admissions won the case for Plaintiff

Former 911 Dispatcher Settles Lawsuit for $262,500

In the Media:

Description of Case:        

WHISTLEBLOWER AND PWDCRA SU­­IT AGAINST SETTLES FOR $262,500.00

Christa Plante was a good and loyal 911 Operator for the Genesee County 9-1-1 Consortium for approximately 16 years.  In her spare time, she sang in a band.  Such spare time employment was not forbidden, as many of the men 911 operators acted as “volunteer firemen” for many of the local governmental entities.  However, when Christa Plante developed certain medical problems, Defendant Boss demanded that she quit singing, despite the fact that he was not a doctor and did not have any medical records to support his position that she should “quit singing” because it was interfering with her job as a 911 operator.  Because she loved to sing, Christa Plante refused to quit singing.

Thereafter, Christa Plante’s car was seriously vandalized, damaged and her four tires flattened.  She reported this to Genesee County Deputy Sheriff, and asked him to run a “LEIN check” on the person Christa Plante thought might be responsible for the hit-and-run damage to her car.  Defendant Boss claimed that Christa Plante used the “LEIN machinery” for her own personal reasons, not related to law enforcement, which is a crime.  Christa Plante vehemently denied that she requested that the Deputy Sheriff run the “LEIN check” solely for her own personal purposes.  The Deputy Sheriff who ran the “LEIN check” was not disciplined or admonished in any way, shape or form.

Nevertheless, Defendant Supervisor fired Christa Plante from her 16 year job as a 911 Operator, despite her claim that she was both a Type I and Type II Whistleblower under the law.  Defendant Supervisor insisted that Christa Plante misused the “LEIN machinery” for personal purposes, which is a crime he claimed justified terminating her employment.  Christa Plante claimed that Defendant Boss was using this “You used the LEIN machinery for personal purposes” reason as a pretextual ruse to get back at Christa Plante because she refused to quit singing, as Defendant Boss had demanded.

Surprisingly, Defendant Boss responded to Christa Plante’s union grievance by stating that after he fired her, he actually offered Christa Plante her job back – despite the fact that his legal position was that she committed a crime.  Christa Plante refused and filed this lawsuit to clear her name.  

This case was facilitated using Judge James Rashid, who ended up settling the case for $262,500.

*For more than 30 years, veteran civil rights attorney Tom R. Pabst has been successfully representing people in Genesee County and surrounding areas.  His vast experience has proven effective in protecting the rights of his clients, and thwarting the injustices they have been subjected to.  Time and again, his track record has shown that Tom R. Pabst is one of the leading civil rights attorneys in the State of Michigan.

 

Case Information:

Type of Action:    Whistleblower Protection Act, PWDCRA

Injuries Alleged:    Loss of job, lost wages, mental anguish, emotional distress and outrage

Name of Case:    Christa Plante v. Genesee County 9-1-1 Consortium Commission and Lloyd Fayling

Court:            Genesee County Circuit Court    

Case No:        13-100133-CZ

Tried Before:        No

Name of Judge:    Hon. Richard Yuille

Facilitation Settlement Amount:    $262,500

Date of Verdict:    Settled via facilitation in Feb. 2014, with Judge James Rashid

Last Offer to Settle:    N/A

Most Helpful Experts:    N/A

Key To Winning:    Using Defendants’ own records and admissions to prove Plaintiff’s WPA and PWDCRA claims

Allocation of Fault:    N/A

Insurance Carrier:    N/A

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

Attorney for Defendant:    withheld

Genesee County Road Commission Worker Settles Reverse Discrimination Lawsuit for $185,000

Case Summary

Type of Action:          Whistleblower Protection Act, ELCRA Discrimination

Injuries Alleged:        Mental anguish, emotional distress and outrage

Name of Case:           Robert McKenzie and Richard Schwarz v. Genesee County Road Commission, Kermit Pitts, and Anthony Branch

Court:                         Genesee County Circuit Court 

Case No:                    11-96608-CZ

Tried Before:             Jury (settled on Day 2 of trial)

Name of Judge:          Hon. Richard Yuille

Verdict/Settlement:    $185,000 for Richard Schwarz, only

Date of Verdict:         Jury (settled on Day 2 of trial)

Last Offer to Settle:               ADR for $65,000 for each Plaintiff, Plaintiff Schwarz accepted, Defendants rejected.

Most Helpful Experts:           N/A

Key To Winning:        Disproving Defendants’ alleged proffered business reasons and defenses with the testimony of their own employees and with their own documents 

Allocation of Fault:    N/A

Insurance Carrier:     N/A

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

Attorney for Defendant:        Withheld

Description of Case:             

 WHISTLEBLOWER SU­­IT AGAINST GENESEE COUNTY ROAD COMMISSION SETTLES FOR $185,000.00

 

Robert McKenzie and Richard Schwarz, hardworking long-time white employees of Defendant Road Commission, were unlawfully punished and retaliated against for having the courage to do the right thing in the workplace.  Specifically, their two African-American bosses, favored black employees over white employees when it came to the terms and conditions of employment, creating two sets of rules, one set of rules for white employees, and another set of rules for black employees. 

There was one African-American employee in particular whom Plaintiff McKenzie knew had a history of showing up to work impaired from alcohol, and had a concern that he was going to show up to work again in that condition.  Knowing that the suspected alcohol-abusing employee was supposed to drive a big truck filled with heavy materials out on the public roads and highways, Robert McKenzie and Richard Schwarz reported this to employees and supervisors of the Genesee County Road Commission.  No doubt because the public could be put in danger, Plaintiffs’ white supervisor actually told Robert McKenzie, “report it to the police”, whereupon Robert McKenzie did report it to police authorities.  The African-American employee had, in fact, shown up to work that morning and smelled of alcohol. 

  So, Plaintiff McKenzie contacted and alerted the police that this man would be on the roads.  Plaintiff Schwarz assisted both McKenzie and the police officer who arrived at the job site in their investigations.  This same African-American employee was someone that the African-American Defendant Supervisors favored and claimed did not drink on the job.  However, when the employees of the Road Commission where deposed, white employees said that they had personally witnessed the African-American employee either drunk or smelling of alcohol on the job.  When asked why they did not step up and report this behavior, they responded that they were “afraid of retaliation” from African-American Supervisors.

 Ironically, although Defendant Supervisors denied that they knew that one of their favored African-American employees was a drunk, that particular employee filed a lawsuit of his own, and sued Defendants in Federal court because he claimed they knew he was a drunk and did not accommodate him enough, and that, basically they “failed to accommodate his alcoholism and/or drunkenness”!!  In that Federal lawsuit, the African-American employee, whom the Defendant Supervisors were grooming to be a supervisor over white employees with more seniority and more competency, admitted that he smoked marijuana in the workplace, and in fact, smoked marijuana driving equipment down the local expressways in Genesee County, particularly, I-475.  Defendants claimed they had no knowledge of any of this.

The trial started November 15, 2013, and Plaintiff Richard Schwarz settled his case on day two of the trial.

*For more than 30 years, veteran civil rights attorney Tom R. Pabst has been successfully representing people in Genesee County and surrounding areas.  His vast experience has proven effective in protecting the rights of his clients, and thwarting the injustices they have been subjected to.  Time and again, his track record has shown that Tom R. Pabst is one of the leading civil rights attorneys in the State of Michigan.

 

 

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:             

EX-FINANCE EMPLOYEE FOR CITY OF FLINT SETTLES LAWSUIT FOR $250,000 PLUS ENTITLEMENT TO PENSION WORTH IN EXCESS OF $350,000

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.

 

Genesee County Woman Settles Case Against Employer And Business’s Owner

In the Media: 

CASE SUMMARY

         Longtime major Genesee County business employee, Heather Anthony, settled her lawsuit against her former employer and the company’s owner, by accepting the case evaluation of $250,000.

            In May of 2012, Anthony was approached by Owner to meet her on a Saturday in a Grand Blanc parking lot.  Having worked for Owner for 15 years, Anthony did as requested.  Upon arriving, Owner entered her vehicle, offered to give her “what she needed” as she had “what he wanted”, forcibly kissed her, and left three $100 bills in her car’s cupholder.  Owner expected an ongoing pay-for-sex relationship.

            The shock of this made Anthony physically ill and created substantial emotional distress knowing that, although she refused his advances more than once, she would have to see Owner again, probably on a continual basis.  Significantly, Owner used his power and influence at the company to obtain Anthony’s cell phone number, which he used to call her – and no other employee – while he was out of town with his wife.  He also tried to meet with Anthony while in the office.

            Anthony reported the incident to the Company’s CEO who stated at her deposition that she believed Anthony.  CEO did an investigation, but did nothing satisfactory to resolve the issue, thereby leaving Anthony unable to work and constructively discharged from her only source of income and a job she successfully held for 15 years.  Anthony also made a report to the Grand Blanc Township Police Department.

            Defendant Company, in a Motion and Brief filed with the Court, took the position that Owner did “at most…what many men do, i.e. used his wealth and ability to provide material favors to a woman, as an inducement to enter into a sexual relationship.”  This outrageous position, coupled with the CEO's deposition testimony that she did not believe that Anthony was making the incident up to extort money from Owner and his company, essentially sealed Defendants’ fates.  Curiously, Defendants offered the purported extortionist and shake-down artist, Heather Anthony, her job back (!), which included handing out company paychecks to the employees she supervised!

            The case settled through Case Evaluation for a total sum of $250,000 - $75,000 as to Company, and $175,000 as to Owner.  Had the case gone to trial, Defendants would have had to pay trebled damages pursuant to Michigan's Ethnic Intimidation statute.

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