Police Officer Kevin Smith's Resolves Case with City for $72,500 over after being victorious in the Michigan Supreme Court

Tom R. Pabst went back to the Michigan Supreme Court to argue on behalf of Kevin Smith, a Flint Police Officer who spoke up against the city misusing millage funds intended to increase the number of police present in the city.  Smith claims that right after speaking out and raising his concerns, the city retaliated against him, and in doing so, took away his ability to represent union members and made him the only officer on a static route patrolling the North End of Flint.

The Supreme Court took the case to consider whether the Court of Appeals applied the correct legal standard as to Michigan's pleading standards.  In particular they wanted oral argument regarding whether Smith alleged sufficient facts to establish that he suffered an "adverse employment action" and sufficient facts to establish that he engaged in a protected activity under the WPA.

After hearing oral arguments the Michigan Supreme Court issued an opinion that agreed with Plaintiff's position that undesirable job assignments is discrimination and an "adverse employment action" under the Whistleblowers' Protection Act.

The case was settled shortly after being sent back down from the Michigan Supreme Court.

Michigan Supreme Court materials:

  • To read the briefs filed with the Michigan Supreme Court, click here
  • To watch the oral arguments, click here

In the media:

 

Whistleblowing Executive Director Of Housing Commission Fired For Demanding Compliance With Law And Important Rules And Regulations

In the Media:

Description of Case:

    For 17 years, Tony Love was the Executive Director for Defendant Housing Commission. He was well known in the community and good at his job.

    However, everything started to change in 2014. Love started to become aware of Defendant's Board engaging in what he recognized as improper activities, including, opening “blind bids” prematurely to compare amounts, violating the Open Meetings Act to further their own purposes, and even questionable usage of non-profit and public monies.

    Plaintiff reported all of these suspected violations to his superiors, who were the same people committing the violations. Unfortunately Defendants felt they could do whatever they wanted and warned the Plaintiff that he “better just do it”, and let their violations go through uncontested. To his great credit, Plaintiff took a stand and refused to back down, and, almost immediately afterward, Love was the subject of an investigation requested to answer Defendants' inquiries, which attempted to shift the blame from them to Love. When it became clear Love still would not back down, certain members of Defendant's Board of Directors publicly showed their outrage and anger and quickly terminated Love, in violation of the Whistleblower Protection Act, Public Policy of Michigan, and the terms of his contract.

    Fortunately, not all housing commissions agreed with the actions of Defendants and appreciated an Executive Director who would stand up against pressure to protect the rights of the Commission and the people who rely on it. Only 6 months after his termination, the highly qualified Love was made the Executive Director of another housing commission where he actually ended up making more in salary the Defendant previous employer paid.

    The case settled shortly after for $100,000.

 

Overview of Case:

Type of Action: Whistleblower Protection Act, Breach of Contract, Violation of Public Policy

Injuries Alleged: Wrongful discharge from Executive Director position

Name of Case: Love v. Inkster Housing Commission, et al

Court: Wayne County Circuit Court

Case No: 15-008260-CZ

Tried Before: N/A

Name of Judge: Hon. Leslie Kim Smith

Jury Verdict: N/A

Settlement: $100,000 Settlement

Most Helpful Experts: Facilitated to settlement by Judge James Rashid

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: Being able to prove Plaintiff’s case through pleadings, documents, and plenty of recorded meeting

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.

FLINT TOWNSHIP SETTLES DISPUTED BREACH OF CONTRACT LAWSUIT FOR $150,000.00

In the Media:

Description of the Case:

Stan Visser was hired by Flint Township as its Technology Specialist. As the Township's Technology Specialist, he kept the computers at Flint Township headquarters up and running so that government services to the public would not be interrupted. He and the Township entered into a formal written contract for his services, which was considered as "lifetime contract". For years, the contract was honored without any problem whatsoever.

However, recently, the Township Supervisor, extensively as a cost-cutting measure, recommended to the Board of Trustees that the lifetime contract be terminated, claiming that this has become necessary due to changing circumstances, even though the Township had enough money to continue and honor the lifetime contract.

Stan Visser, and his attorney, Tom Pabst, claim the Township could not terminate the "lifetime contract" for the reasons given, and filed a lawsuit with the Genesee County Circuit Court. The lawsuit was assigned to Judge Yuille, who recently denied Defendant Township's Motion for Summary Disposition to have the case thrown out of Court. A jury trial was to be scheduled.

Through settlement negotiations, the case recently settled for $150,000.

*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.

SECRETARY VICTIM HEARTBROKEN WHEN ALMA MATER EMPLOYER/BOSS SIDES WITH BULLY

In the Media:

Type of Action:   

(1)    Type I Whistleblower Protection Act

(2)    Type II Whistleblower Protection Act

Injuries Alleged:    Suspension/loss of job, lost wages, outrage/emotional distress/mental, damage to reputation in her hometown

Name of Case:    Jennifer Smith v. Linden Community Schools, et al

Court:            Genesee County Circuit Court   

Case No:        11-97228-CZ

Tried Before:        No

Name of Judge:    Hon. Richard B. Yuille

Settlement Amount:    $240,000       

Last Offer to Settle:    N/A

Most Helpful Experts:    N/A

Key To Winning:    Using Defendants’ own policies/by-laws to prove Plaintiff’s WPA 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 Defendants:    withheld

Description of Case:   

Jennifer Smith grew up in Linden, Michigan, and graduated from Linden High School. Thereafter, she worked as a secretary/administrative assistant for Linden High School for approximately 16 years. According to the male administrators, Jennifer was “compassionate and caring”, “a joy to work with”, and “fun and gregarious”. She loved her job.

 

However, a female administrator became Jennifer’s boss, and started harassing Jennifer. Defendant Employer School had a very broad policy against harassment of staff or applicants, which included the following protection:

 

This policy, however, is not limited to these legal categories and includes any improper harassment that would negatively impact a staff member. This would include such activities as stalking and unwelcomed taunting, teasing, or intimidation”.

 

Jennifer complained that the female administrator was violating this School policy, but no proper investigation was conducted, therefore, no “prompt and remedial action” was taken, as required, by Defendant Employer School.

 

In fact, Defendant Employer School accused Jennifer of lying during the pseudo-investigation, then criticized her in writing for filing this lawsuit to protect her legal rights under the Whistleblower Protection Act, being MCLA §15.361. Sadly, Jennifer was fired from her job, and rendered an outcast in her hometown community of Linden, Michigan.

 

The female administrator is no longer employer with Defendant Employer School.

 

This lawsuit was filed, in material part, to “clear her name”, and people can make up their own minds as to whether this $240,000 settlement accomplishes that goal.

 

Attorneys for Jennifer Smith were Tom R. Pabst, Michael A. Kowalko, and Jarrett M. Pabst.

 

*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.

 

 

Flushing Chief of Police Awarded $50,000 in Lawsuit

Flushing Police Chief, Brian Fairchild, who filed a lawsuit as a whistleblower, was recently awarded $50,000 by a panel of attorneys in Genesee County, after being reinstated to his position with the Flushing Township Police Department.

 

In the media: 

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.

 

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: