Monday, April 3, 2017

Hamtramck settles whistleblower lawsuit

The following is a statement released by Mark Koroi, attorney for plaintiff, Steve Shaya, in the settlement of the Hamtramck whistleblower case.

After receiving a number of phone calls from media representatives regarding the above-cited matter, I am releasing the following statement regarding the final conclusion of the lawsuit that has been pending in federal court in Detroit for the last three years and previously reported in various media outlets:

On the afternoon of Friday, March 31st, 2017, United States District Judge Matthew Leitman of the Eastern District of Michigan signed an order dismissing the Shaya lawsuit pursuant to Settlement Agreement reached between the parties shortly after the liability insurance carrier for the City of Hamtramck tendered a check for $75,000.00 to the undersigned counsel under settlement between Steve Shaya and the City of Hamtramck as well as current or former city and police officials and employees also named as defendants. Included as defendants at the time of settlement were Councilperson Andrea Karpinski and former Hamtramck Chief of Police Maxwell Garbarino, currently an Eastpointe patrolman, as well as former Hamtramck City Manager Erik Tungate, currently the Oak Park City Manager, and Kyle Tertzag. Copies of the federal pleadings are available online.

The federal lawsuit had alleged retaliation against Mr. Shaya, the former Public Works Director for Hamtramck, for his reporting of apparent police misconduct as well as city officials for allegedly targeting minority Arab and Muslim residents and businesspersons for oppressive treatment. The suit also alleged Shaya was framed on a hit-and-run criminal charge that was eventually dismissed. The U.S. District Court lawsuit claimed violations of the Whistleblowers' Protection Act, Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, Federal Civil Rights Act of 1871, as well as common law counts of malicious prosecution and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The depositions of 51 witnesses were noticed and current Mayor Karen Majewski, former Mayor Thomas Jankowski, Councilmen Robert Zwolak, Anam Miah, Mohammed Hassan and then-District Judge Paul Paruk were among those deposed as witnesses. Ten defense attorneys from three separate law firms appeared at various stages of the action and defense costs are believed to be approximately $250,000.00.

The lead counsel for the City of Hamtramck was City Attorney John Clark of Troy.

The settlement of this federal lawsuit does not affect the pending wrongful discharge lawsuit filed by Mr. Shaya, a Chaldean-American, that is currently being defended by the City of Hamtramck alleging his suspension and discharge as the Director of Public Works in violation of the Whistleblowers' Protection Act and Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Sheila Gibson held a "Special Conference" in that case last Thursday morning following a January of 2017 Michigan Court of Appeals ruling reversing Gibson's earlier dismissal in 2015 of the state court case due to an arbitration agreement; the state appellate panel held that Mr. Shaya did not sign an arbitration agreement that contained a clear waiver of his right to litigate his civil rights claims in a court of law.

Do not hesitate to call me at (734)459-4040 if you have any questions. 

Thank you.

                                                                                                                  Mark Michael Koroi, Esq.

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