$350,000 Whistleblower Verdict Reinstated
The Michigan Supreme Court has recently reinstated a $350,000 verdict in a whistle-blower lawsuit brought against Lake County by a former employee.
Former Lake County 911 department director Cheryl Debano-Griffin sued the county in 2005 under the Whistleblowers Protection Act. Cheryl complained about the handling of emergency funds when property tax money for ambulance services was being funneled into another county account. As a result, Cheryl lost her job.
While Cheryl originally won her case at trial in Lake County Circuit Court, the case has been sent to the state Court of Appeals twice, as well as to the Supreme Court. Most recently however, in a 4-0 opinion authored by Justice Michael Cavanagh, the court did in fact find a causal link between Cheryl’s termination and the complaints she made to the county board.
Cheryl’s objections included opposition towards the use of a Lake County EMS ambulance for the transportation of residents from other counties in non-emergency situations, as well as the county board’s authorization to transfer $50,000 from the ambulance account to a “mapping project account.” However, the board voted to return the funds to the ambulance account two days after voting to merge two county positions, which eliminated Cheryl’s job due to “budgetary problems.”
The court determined that although there may have been financial issues at the time, it did not appear that these difficulties were the board’s motivating factor when it eliminated Cheryl’s position. As a result, the original $350,000 verdict to Cheryl was reinstated.
To learn more and read the original article, please visit MLive.