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Thread: City inspector sues for $2mil
04-28-2008, 06:35 PM #1
City inspector sues for $2mil
Here is a link to a story of a inspector that is sueing for $2mil
City prevails in wrongful termination suit - Lincoln
City prevails in wrongful termination suit
Jury finds no evidence building inspector was discharged
By Liz Kellar
After six days of testimony, a jury took less than six hours to find for the defense in a wrongful termination suit against the city of Lincoln.
Kathy Kirsan, a former building inspector for the city, was seeking more than $2 million in damages for wrongful termination, discrimination and retaliation for making a complaint.
“They found for the city of Lincoln,” said Robert Henk, Kirsan’s attorney. “They read through the jury instruction and they found she had not been discharged. They concluded she retired, that her retirement was not forced by the city of Lincoln.”
According to Henk, the jury would have had to find that Kirsan was wrongfully discharged before they could address the other complaints of discrimination and retaliation.
“The city is pleased that after carefully reviewing the facts of the case, the jury saw fit to uphold the city’s employment practices and that no discrimination or retaliation was found,” said Lincoln City Manager Jerry Johnson.
“I’m disappointed for Ms. Kirsan,” Henk said. “It’s taken us a long time to get here and I’m disappointed it turned out this way. I think the jury heard the evidence and did the best they could to come out with what they thought was right – they couldn’t find termination.”
Kirsan, who was employed by the city of Lincoln as a building inspector from 1999 to November 2005, alleged in her suit that she was discriminated against and terminated due to pressure from former city clerk and current councilwoman Linda Stackpoole. Kirsan alleged retaliation because she had filed several building code violation notices against Stackpoole.
In closing arguments Thursday, city attorney Stacey Sheston said there was no basis for Kirsan’s suit, because she was not terminated and she was not the victim of discrimination or retaliation.
“This is a ‘Where there’s smoke, there’s fire’ kind of case,” she said. “I submit that that doesn’t work here … What looks like smoke is just a bunch of hot air.”
Sheston told the jury that Kirsan’s suit was not about the building department being dysfunctional, or about whether her termination was appropriate, or about feeling bad for Kirsan, or even whether Stackpoole’s properties had building code violations.
Sheston detailed Kirsan’s run-ins with her supervisor, Todd Cunningham, and with Stackpoole, portraying her as prone to over-reaction. She told the jury Stackpoole’s position as city clerk did not afford her the power to have someone fired.
“She makes the clerk look like the Darth Vader of city government … She’s more like the R2D2,” Sheston said.
Sheston said the city chose to proceed with the notice of intent to terminate because Kirsan was not following city procedures.
“The key issue is Kirsan’s abuse of power, her abuse of the city’s name and authority to carry out a personal grudge,” Sheston said.
The city’s attorneys also argued that a notice of intent to terminate was simply the first step before a hearing and that Kirsan chose not to follow the appeals process.
Kirsan had testified she chose to retire because she did not want to lose her benefits.
“If she thought she was being railroaded, she could have gone to binding arbitration,” Sheston said. “She wasn’t terminated. She retired. She chose to abandon the appeal process.”
Sheston said that testimony showed that Kirsan was planning to retire and, in fact, had applied for a part-time job in Oroville. She received an offer from Oroville and chose not to accept it, Sheston added, arguing that Kirsan’s loss of income was by her choice, not due to city action.
Sheston added that Kirsan also could not claim retaliation because her immediate supervisor, Todd Cunningham, had not proposed she be terminated, but rather had drafted a written reprimand. He also had given her a good evaluation in October 2005.
Henk argued Thursday that there were no allegations in the city’s notice of intent to terminate Kirsan that were worthy of actual termination, other than her issues with Stackpoole.
:The city says one thing, but it was a pretext for another thing,” he said.
According to the notice of intent to terminate, Kirsan showed continual disrespect toward employees and her supervisor, continually used inappropriate language and made inappropriate and incorrect accusations towards property owners.
She also was accused of issuing a Stop Work Notice without a properly conducted investigation; taking improper abatement action; not conducting proper inspections; and not following department procedure.
04-28-2008, 06:48 PM #2
Re: City inspector sues for $2mil
Looks like a loose canon who received the justice she deserved. Almost every jurisdiction has or had a "Code Nazi" one time or another. This one shot herself in the foot. 2 million, jeez!
Building Code/ Construction Consultant
04-28-2008, 10:02 PM #3
Re: City inspector sues for $2mil
Does it surprise you... Ca. the land of the litigious-- Hell, everyone is a potential lotto winner. All you gotta do is get a docket no.