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

Malicious Prosecution Nightmare Ended for Former Village of Oxford Clerk

In the media:

Type of Action: 42 USC §1983, First Amendment Retaliation; State and Federal "Malicious Prosecution" claims

Description of Case:

FORMER VILLAGE OF OXFORD CLERK WHO WAS FALSELY ACCUSED AND PROSECUTED FOR EMBEZZLEMENT SETTLES CASE FOR $300,000

Plaintiff, Marion "Pat" Paad, lived the Kafkaesque nightmare of being falsely accused of embezzlement, losing her job and going through a criminal trial with the prospect of facing years in prison. Plaintiff was Defendants’ Deputy Clerk, and became aware that taxpayers' money was being misappropriated and/or stolen. Plaintiff went outside her chain of command to report this to the Village Council. Individual Village Manager Defendant Joe Young, for reasons only known to himself, then attempted to deflect attention away from himself by fabricating "probable cause" to not only get Plaintiff fired but to have her prosecuted criminally. Specifically, individual Defendant Joe Young scapegoated Pat Paad by lying to the police authorities, falsely claiming Plaintiff "confessed" to the crime, even though the local police captain whom individual Defendant Joe Young hand-picked to be present as a witness denied that he had heard any such confession! Plaintiff always denied that she made any type of confession of any sort. Nevertheless, Plaintiff was criminally prosecuted based on the false, phony and fraudulent story concocted by individual Defendant Joe Young, which included the complete lie that she had "confessed" to the crime.

Plaintiff was now jobless, broke and not only dealing with the humiliating media coverage in her local community, but also facing a felony criminal trial. Criminal defense Attorney Denis McCarthy showed through his skillful cross-examination that Defendants' story was discombobulated, fragmented and just plain incredible. Pat Paad was quickly acquitted of all criminal charges by the jury.

However, by this point, Pat Paad's whole life had been destroyed. She then brought this civil action seeking not only financial justice but to clear her name. Defendants filed their Motion for Summary Judgment, relying primarily on the Garcetti, supra, defense that her reports of Defendants' misappropriation of public monies was not First Amendment protected speech because it was part of her job duties. This defense failed, however, for the reason that the post-Garcetti case of Handy-Clay v City of Memphis, 695 F3d 531 (2012), was directly on point and carried the day. Just as the plaintiff in Handy-Clay, supra, had done, Plaintiff Pat Paad complained to the Village Council in this case. Additionally, Defendants' MSJ regarding the malicious prosecution claim was defeated because the case precedent cited by Defendants to the District Court actually supported Plaintiff's position!

An attempt at private facilitation was not fruitful and the case did not appear as if it could possibly settle. However, at the Settlement Conference just prior to trial, Judge Steeh himself became involved and was instrumental in effecting a $300,000.00 settlement.

This case is significant because it is an example of how the "Garcetti/job duties" defense can be overcome, and because it should clear Pat Paad’s name and reputation with most thinking people.

--

Injuries Alleged: Lost income, mental anguish, emotional distress

Name of Case: Paad v. Village of Oxford, et al

Court: Federal District Court

Case No: 12-15574-CV

Tried Before: N/A

Name of Judge: George Caram Steeh

Verdict/Settlement: $300,000.00 settlement

Special Damages: N/A

Date of Verdict: N/A

Key to Winning: Defeating Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, especially Defendants’ Garcetti v. Cabello's, 547 US 410 (2006) defense to the First Amendment claim.

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

Attorney for Defendant: Withheld

Art Van pays $1.375 million to end lawsuit against deceased father

In the media:

Type of Action: Wrongful Death (automobile accident)

Description of Case:

We understand that  no amount of money can bring this loved son, brother, father and friend back.  We hope that the proper questions are asked of the parties involved and that the family finally finds closure.

Lonnie Moore, Plaintiff, and his fiancée had just started a new chapter in their lives. Lonnie had a new job and they just had their first baby together five months prior. After months at home with just the baby, Lonnie decided they both needed just one night away from it all to celebrate their good fortune, future and new family. So, on the night of June 30, 2013, Lonnie and his fiancée set out for an evening in downtown Detroit. The evening was going great per Lonnie's brother, who was last person to talk to Lonnie, who received a phone call after the evening was underway and said he hadn't heard that much joy in his brother’s voice in months.

On their way back, their car experienced mechanical problems which affected some of the exterior lights, so they put on their hazards and continued at a reduced speed. The rest of what is known comes from a crucially important eyewitness, Steven Mildge, who was also a Border Patrol Officer and 15-year veteran truck driver who was traveling one lane over from Lonnie and Defendant Art Van’s tractor trailer rig. He said Lonnie's car was there to be seen, "plain as day", and that Defendant Art Van Truck Driver had "ample time to avoid what happened" and he did not understand why the truck did not simply switch lanes to avoid it. In fact, Eyewitness Mildge testified that he had enough time to think over and over and over again in his mind, “Why isn’t the Art Van truck taking evasive action? Why isn’t he pulling over? Why isn’t he doing something to avoid the crash?”, until finally, the eyewitness had to look away.

After the terrible rear-end collision by a huge Art Van semi-truck that killed the Art Van Driver claimed he had no recollection of even hitting the car.   After Defendant's driver admitted he wasn't paying attention while driving, Defendants then resorted to attempting to intimidate Lonnie's surviving family members, including his mom, the Personal Representative, by going on an all-out smear campaign against him. Specifically, Defendants deposed Lonnie’s ex-wife and ex-girlfriends and even their relatives, including Lonnie's 18 year-old daughter from his first marriage, to try to find someone who would say that Lonnie was a worthless person, a bad father. In other words, that Lonnie was someone a jury should not consider worthy and whose life didn't matter much. However, everybody testified the same way, namely, that Lonnie was a good and caring man, a great father, and their best friend.

This case settled through an Oakland County ADR panel for $1,375,000.

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

-----

Injuries Alleged: Lost future income, death, mental anguish, emotional distress

Name of Case: Moore v. Art Van, et al

Court: Oakland County Circuit Court

Case No: 14-139524-NI

Tried Before: N/A

Name of Judge: Patrick O'Brien

ADR/Settlement: $1,375,000

Special Damages: N/A

Date of Verdict: N/A

$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

Whistleblower Suit Against Nursing Home Settles For $100,000.00

In the Media:

Mlive: "Flushing nursing home settles lawsuit over accusations of unsafe conditions"

Michigan Lawyers Weekly: "Director: I was scapegoat in investigation -- He claimed complaints on security went unheeded"

Description of Case:        

WHISTLEBLOWER SU­­IT AGAINST NURSING HOME SETTLES FOR $100,000.00

Plaintiff, Darren Coggins, settled his lawsuit against his former employer, a nursing home “caring” for the elderly, for $100,000.  Throughout his employment with Defendants, Coggins complained to upper management about the unsafe conditions that the elderly residents were put in – namely that the entrance security system was not working properly and residents were letting themselves in and out of the building, and that the facility was under-staffed.   Defendants repeatedly ignored his recommendations to hire additional staff and fix the security system, letting money considerations overrule what they needed to do for the good of their residents.   Defendants conduct constituted discrimination against their elderly and vulnerable patients, and shirked their responsibility to truly comply with the State safety mandates, because they could get away with it, and thereby maximize Defendants’ profits by running a “mill” – this was the argument made at both MSD and ADR.

Defendants made it known to Coggins that they were unhappy with his protestations and efforts to protect the elderly and handicapped by hiring more staff and installing proper security systems.  At a certain point, it was brought to his attention that, regardless of his stellar work record, because of his complaints, his job was in jeopardy.

After a complaint was made (not by the Plaintiff) to the State of Michigan attributable to an alarm system safety hazard, and Coggins participated in the State’s investigation, Defendants used him as a “scapegoat”, and he was fired in 2012 from his Director of Nursing duties, ironically due to the very same violations he complained of and demanded that Defendants fix to prevent the elderly patients from “walking away” from the facility, which in fact occurred.

During depositions, Defendants acknowledged that their blaming of Coggins was a ‘trickledown effect’ – that someone else on duty was responsible for the violations, but since he was in charge of that individual, he was to blame.  This is exactly the “blame the supervisor” for what the employees did proffered business reason that formed the basis of the U.S. Supreme Court case of St. Mary's Honor Center v Hicks, 509 U.S. 502, 511 (1993)

Trial in this matter was set for mid-April, 2014, after the Judge denied Defendants’ Motion for Summary Disposition on all claims but Public Policy.  The case settled through ADR on 3/5/14 for $100,000.

 

Case Information:

Type of Action:    Whistleblower Protection Act, ELCRA Discrimination and Retaliation, PWDCRA

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

Name of Case:    Darren Coggins v. Heartland Employment Services, Cyndi Taplin and Rami Ubaydi

Court:            Genesee County Circuit Court    

Case No:        12-99179-CZ

Tried Before:        No

Name of Judge:    Hon. Judith Fullerton

Verdict/Settlement:    $100,000

Date of Verdict:    Settled through ADR on 3/5/14

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 ELCRA 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

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.

 

 

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!

 

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.

 

Federal Employment Case – Plaintiff gets to jury on retaliation and gender discrimination claims

BY: Ed Wesoloski In this mixed-motive employment discrimination case, plaintiff’s gender and retaliation claims must be decided by a jury. Plaintiff worked for L & L Products for a number of years. She became aware that that a man doing the same job received a bigger paycheck even though he had worked fewer hours than plaintiff. Plaintiff made an inquiry, ... (above blurb from Lawyers Weekly Website)


Read more: http://milawyersweekly.com/news/2013/05/21/employment-plaintiff-gets-to-jury-on-retaliation-and-gender-discrimination-claims/#ixzz2VAYoUyO9

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.

Articles: