Key Wins Archives - Parks Chesin & Walbert
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Smyrna Fire Lieutenant Prevails in Disability Case

Parks, Chesin & Walbert’s 2018 is off to a great start with a jury verdict of almost $200,000 on behalf of a firefighter who was wrongfully terminated. In October of 1990, Allen Goble joined the Smyrna Fire Department. For the next 23 years and 7 months, he devoted his life to being a first responder. Like many firefighters and emergency medical technicians, Allen thrived on the adrenaline rush of heading to fire and accident scenes and saving lives. This work can take a toll as well. After years of witnessing some of the most profound human tragedies that most of us never encounter, and after witnessing the death of a small child, Allen developed anxiety disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. While he tried to endure his suffering in private for some period of time, he and his family took the courageous step of informing the Fire Department of his diagnosis.

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PCW Obtains Over $1,000,000 Verdict for Car Crash

On December 21, 2011, Wayne Nichols suffered significant injuries when a car driven by Andrew Fannin ran a stop sign and collided with Mr. Nichols vehicle as he was entering an intersection in Henry County. Mr. Nichols’s most significant injuries from the collision were to his knee and neck. He suffered a severe MCL strain in his knee, as well as three disc herniations in his neck that resulted a three-level cervical fusion surgery.

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Another PCW Victory for Whistle-Blowers

In July of 2010, Fulton County Deputy County Manager Gwendolyn Warren and Maria Colon, the Fulton County Professional Standards Officer in charge of the Office of Professional Standards (“OPS”), were removed from their jobs because they exposed extensive government waste and corruption. Their report of gross fraud and waste within the Fulton County government led to a string of successful police investigations which uncovered a variety of wrong-doing, including the illegal payment of welfare benefits to employees, potential conflicts of interest, an employee trading county employment for sexual favors, and the theft of more than $180,000 of taxpayer money by County employees who used the money to operate a private company, Exquisite Events. The County Commissioners did not like the publicity, and pressured the County Manager to eliminate OPS. Eventually, the County Manager gave into the pressure, removed both Warren and Colon from their jobs, and closed OPS.

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PCW Wins $1,000,000 for Client Against Tea Party Patriots

PCW partner Matt Maguire, along with co-counsel Jonathan Pope of Hasty Pope, LLP, obtained a verdict of $833,000 (and total judgment in excess of $1,000,000) for their client, James Lyle, in a hard-fought libel case against the Tea Party Patriots, Inc. (“TPP”) and its volunteer employee, Lee Martin. Mr. Martin was the husband of TPP co-founder and board member Jenny Beth Martin. The Plaintiff, Mr. Lyle, was in a relationship with Amy Kremer, another co-founder of TPP who had previously been removed from the TPP board and who became affiliated with a rival tea party faction called Tea Party Express. While using a fake profile, Mr. Martin posted on a tea party activist’s Facebook wall that James Lyle had molested Amy Kremer’s teenaged daughter and that Amy Kremer kicked her daughter out of the house for reporting the molestation to the police. The entire post was false. Mr. Lyle did not molest the daughter, nor had he ever been accused of doing so.

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Whistle-Blower Paid $280,000 Thanks to Parks, Chesin & Walbert

Bernard Best came to the United Sates from Barbados, where he was a police officer. Once in Atlanta, he trained to become a housing inspector and obtained a job with the City of Atlanta in April of 2013. The City of Atlanta administers a program in the Building Department and elsewhere called the Professional Certification Program. This policy offers incentive pay to employees who obtain additional certifications in their fields. Mr. Best enrolled in the program to improve his earning potential and his skills as a building inspector. He obtained three additional certifications through the program, which, according to City Ordinances, entitled him to an additional $6,000 in annual compensation. However, Mr. Best’s managers refused to approve his new pay.

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Whistleblower Win: Changes That Go Ch-Ching

On a local and national scale, whistleblowers are starting to win.

In August, the U.S. tax court awarded over $17 million to a pair of whistleblowers in a landmark decision that expanded the range of what can be claimed in such cases. For the first time, the tax court’s ruling permitted whistleblowers to get a portion of criminal fines and civil forfeitures in addition to part of the taxes the government recouped because of information they provided. The Wall Street Journal reports that the parties involved in the case weren’t disclosed, but it appears to stem from the prosecution of Wegelin & Co. The Swiss bank closed after it pleaded guilty in 2013 to conspiring with U.S. taxpayers to hide money from the IRS.

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Speech and Public Comment in School Board Meetings

A recent ruling against the Walker County School District has the Georgia administration system paying attention to their rules and procedures. The lawsuit was filed by a teacher in a Walker County school. The suit targeted a policy around public comment at School Board meetings. The Judge found that the School Board meetings required speech protections under the 1st Amendment of the Constitution.

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Surprising Settlements: McDonald’s, Erin Andrews & DeKalb County

It was big news in March when Erin Andrews, sports reporter and co-host of Dancing with the Stars, was awarded a whopping $55 million dollars by a Tennessee jury in her lawsuit against Marriott. This came after an incident in 2008 when she was filmed through her hotel room’s peephole that had been reversed by a man later criminally convicted for the act (and for stalking Andrews). A few weeks later – and with a bit less fanfare, it was announced that Andrews and Marriott had settled for an undisclosed amount.

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LGBTQ Anti-Discrimination Laws Around the US

Georgia, North Carolina, and Mississippi have all made the news recently because of legislation that allows discrimination towards LGBT people. However, so far each state’s legislation has resulted in very different outcomes. North Carolina continues to face significant pressure from businesses, artists, and public figures regarding the HB2 “bathroom” bill. This bill requires transgender people to use the gender that was assigned to them at birth when determining where to use the restroom. HB2 prohibits local governments from passing LGBT anti-discrimination ordinances.

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FULTON COUNTY PAYS $18 MILLION FOR EMPLOYMENT CLAIMS

On November 18, 2015, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners agreed to pay over $18 million to settle a suit filed by Parks, Chesin & Walbert attorneys on behalf of over 300 County employees. The settlement is the latest in a series of claims alleging the County’s pay plan violates its personnel regulations. The County was forced to pay $4.6 million in 2014 for similar claims brought by judicial law clerks after losing a binding arbitration.

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