Town manager took action after report of malfeasance
Lawyers’ Weekly — Plaintiff Brian Booker was chief of police for Defendant Buena Vista Township for nearly seven years. He filed a police report at a citizen’s request. The report named defendant Bregitte Braddock, then-township manager, in a possible malfeasance scheme related to the citizen’s claim that Braddock had “tricked” her out of surplus township property in favor of Braddock’s friend.
Shortly after Braddock learned that Booker had filed the report, she fired him Feb. 29, 2012,
Plaintiff argued that defendants violated the Whistleblowers’ Protection Act, which prohibits termination because an employee reports suspected criminal behavior.
Defendants contended that plaintiff was terminated for “poor performance” exactly one year after he signed an at-will contract after having been “counseled” when he allegedly failed to improve.
Plaintiff’s counsel obtained substantial documents in discovery and took multiple depositions of the defense witnesses. After being confronted with many of the documents, plaintiff’s counsel said Braddock repeatedly contradicted herself in her rationales for plaintiff’s termination.
Plaintiff’s counsel also deposed many of plaintiff’s co-employees and his subordinates at the police department, including the officer who replaced plaintiff. In addition plaintiff impeached defendants’ claim that plaintiff was a poor performer.
The case settled on the eve of trial for $550,000.
Type of action: Whistleblowers’ Protection Act
Type of injuries: Loss of position as chief of police with resulting wage and noneconomic loss
Name of case: Booker v. Charter Township of Buena Vista
Court/Case no./Date: Saginaw County Circuit Court; 12-015950-CZ-4; Dec. 6, 2013
Name of judge: Gerald D. Lostracco
Highest offer: $550,000
Settlement amount: $550,000
Case evaluation: $400,000
Most helpful expert: Calvin Hoerneman, economic expert, Midland
Attorney for plaintiff: Debra A. Freid
Attorney for defendant: Audrey J. Forbush