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.

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

 

$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

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.

 

 

Michigan Lawyer's Weekly Verdicts & Settlement: Bev Garvin (II)

Michigan Lawyer's Weekly Verdicts & Settlement Write-up:

Former teacher sues individual defendants in retaliation claim

Wayne jury finds liability for all, hits HR head with 52K in punitive damages

In a retrial, a Wayne County jury found liability for all four defendants and issued a $721,400 award, including $52,000 in punitive damages against the head of human resources.


Read more: http://milawyersweekly.com/news/2013/12/10/former-teacher-sues-individual-defendants-in-retaliation-claim/#ixzz2n6ctjFy3

JURY AGAIN FINDS FOR THE TEACHER WHO SAYS SHE WAS FIRED FOR REPORTING STUDENT ABUSE

            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!

 

Michigan Supreme Court Agrees that Motive Does Not Matter in Whistleblower Suits

 Attorneys Jarrett Pabst, Tom Pabst, & Michael Kowalko with Police Chief Bruce Whitman after the May Decision by the Michigan Supreme Court

Attorneys Jarrett Pabst, Tom Pabst, & Michael Kowalko with Police Chief Bruce Whitman after the May Decision by the Michigan Supreme Court

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Arguments:

Opinion:

  • The Michigan Supreme Court's Opinion

Articles:

Jury Agrees That Student Was Reckless During Gym Class

Attorney Michael Kowalko won a Jury Verdict in Genesee County Circuit Court, which  took him only 1½ days to try to the jury, and further, it tookthe jury only one hour to deliberate.  They found that defendant minor’s conduct was reckless and that there was zero comparative negligence on the part of plaintiff’s minor.

Articles: