Parks Chesin & Walbert | Key Wins
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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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CLASS ACTION CHALLENGING THE STATE HEALTH BENEFIT PLAN’S REFUSAL TO PROVIDE PROMISED BENEFITS CONTINUES

Health Care

Ruling in favor of the Plaintiff, who is represented by Parks, Chesin & Walbert, along with co-counsel, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Cynthia D. Wright rejected the Attorney General’s contention that the Georgia State Health Benefit Plan (the “Plan”) is immune from suit. Order (D) 2014.10.09 Def’s Motion to Dismiss.  The Plan is administered by the Defendant Department of Community Health (“DCH”), and it provides health care coverage to hundreds of thousands of state employees, teachers and administrators of the State’s local public school systems.  The Court found the Plaintiff can sue DCH for breach of contract for failing to provide the benefits it promised once it accepted premiums from its members for enhanced levels of coverage under the Plan.

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Successful Protest of Georgia State Contract

Matt Maguire and Jenn Coalson protested a $15 million/year award of the Georgia Department of Corrections’ prison commissary contract on behalf of two Georgia-based family-owned businesses.  The Department of Corrections had decided to award the contract to a large, national supplier but we were able to prove that the supplier failed to meet the RFP mandatory requirements and, as a consequence, should have been disqualified.

PCW Prevails in Pre-Award Bid Protest

Matt Maguire prevailed in a pre-award bid protest of Georgia’s IT staffing contract which removed certain requirements from the RFP that presented substantial impediments to our client’s ability to supply those services to the state.