Firm and Attorney News
Ben Mathis and Bill Buechner obtained a favorable ruling from the Eleventh Circuit affirming the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of a public employer on race and sex discrimination claims brought by a former police captain. Stevens v. City of Forest Park, --- Fed.Appx. ---, 2015 WL 9287741 (11th Cir. 12/22/15). The plaintiff was terminated after she refused to sign a last chance agreement, which was intended to give her a final opportunity to improve her performance before being terminated. The plaintiff was given the last chance agreement due to a series of incidents that culminated with her encouraging several subordinates on an accident review panel to find an officer not at fault for an accident without providing them with photographs (as required by city policies) showing that the accident was avoidable. The plaintiff argued that the major who recommended her termination made comments demonstrating gender bias and that the termination decision was therefore tainted by gender bias even though the final decision was made by the city manager based on the recommendation of the police chief. The Eleventh Circuit rejected the plaintiff’s “cat’s paw” argument and held that the major’s alleged gender bias was not a motivating factor in the plaintiff’s termination because the police chief interviewed the plaintiff before deciding to give her the last chance agreement, re-wrote significant portions of the last chance agreement and rejected the major’s initial recommendation to terminate her instead of giving her a last chance agreement. The Eleventh Circuit also rejected the plaintiff’s arguments that she did not engage in any misconduct in connection with the accident review, and that the City treated similarly-situated supervisors more favorably.
Freeman Mathis & Gary is pleased to announce that Bart Gary’s Georgia Construction Law Handbook, 2016 edition is now available. This is the fourth annual edition and is expanded to include new topics and recent developments. The 345-page book is devoted to construction law in Georgia, and is intended for all construction professionals as well as the legal profession. It is an organized reference to topics such as regulatory matters and the collection of money using the mechanic’s lien law or the public works bond laws. The book is available in either hardcopy or E-Book from ALM, a leading publisher for the legal profession.
Brian Dempsey, Sun Choy, and Kevin Stone recently won summary judgment on behalf of a city in a trip-and-fall case which was brought in the State Court of DeKalb County. The plaintiff’s fall occurred while the plaintiff was descending an outdoor concrete stairway at a recreational property. First, the court ruled that the plaintiff’s ante litem notice was defective because it did not state the place of the alleged injury with sufficient detail to allow the city to investigate before plaintiff filed suit. Second, the court held that Georgia’s Recreational Property Act barred the claim, since the alleged injury occurred on property that the city permits any person to use for recreational purposes without charge. Third, the court agreed with the city’s argument that the plaintiff’s prior successful use of the stairway and her knowledge of its open and obvious condition defeated her claim.