In the case of Pascoe v. Furniture Brands International, Judge Frank Whitney in the Western District of North Carolina denied the defendants’ motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s claims of sexual harassment today. The case will now proceed to trial, which is scheduled for later this month. Ann Groninger and Joshua Van Kampen represent the plaintiffs, Pam Pascoe and Margaret Tambling, against their former employers in this case.
Judge Whitney did not issue a written decision, but plaintiff’s memorandum in opposition to summary judgment well describes this case:
This case raises a very poignant and present question, which is the extent of an employer’s liability under state and federal law for the conduct of a seemingly mentally unstable supervisor who tormented his female employees with threats of violence, including gun violence, surveillance of their homes, and numerous bizarre sexual comments. Regrettably, the conduct at issue in this case is a cautionary tale of an employer that flubbed the handling of a potentially dangerous situation by initially ignoring glaring warning signs, subsequently severely under-reacting to them, and which ultimately chose to circle the wagons around the proverbial outlaw, rather than act as a responsible member of our corporate community. Thankfully, Spicer did not turn his guns on these women as he said he might, but plaintiffs feared that he was fully capable of physically harming them. They have carried emotional scars left by Mr. Spicer’s conduct; injuries made worse by their employer’s betrayal of them. Defendants may aim to use their summary judgment motions to establish a low water mark of the protections afforded women in the workplace in North Carolina; however, plaintiffs respectfully submit that they have marshaled sufficient facts to permit a jury to answer that question.
Categories: Judicial Decisions, News of the Firm
In Simmons v. United Mortgage and Loan Investment, LLC, the Fourth Circuit ruled for plaintiffs and reversed the district court in this wage and hour case. The plaintiffs are Charlotte-based Junior Asset Managers for a mortgage company who were not paid overtime even though they worked more than 40 hours per week. They brought claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and North Carolina Wage and Hour Act (NCWHA) based on the failure to pay overtime. The primary issue is whether the plaintiffs will be able to pursue their case as a collective and class action on behalf the other underpaid workers at the company. The defendants tried to short-circuit the collective/class action process by tendering a limited settlement offer before other workers could be notified of the case. The Fourth Circuit rejected this tactic, finding the settlement too indefinite to moot the case. The Court remanded the case to the trial court to consider plaintiff’s motion to certify the collective action and plaintiffs’ amendments to the NCWHA claims. Ann Groninger, Burton Craige, and Narendra Ghosh are representing the plaintiffs.
More from the opinion below:
Categories: Judicial Decisions, News of the Firm
On Monday, December 6, firm partners Leto Copeley (Chapel Hill) and Ann Groninger (Charlotte) obtained a $250,000.00 verdict in Forsyth County Superior Court on behalf of their client, Thomas M. Sprinkle, against Hammaker East Emulsions, LLC, an asphalt manufacturing company.
Mr. Sprinkle was working for his employer Blythe Industries as a tack distributor truck driver on December 3, 2008, the day of his injury. That morning his truck was empty and he drove to Hammaker East to have the truck loaded with tack. After directing him to the loading dock and inserting the pipe into his truck, a Hammaker employee told Mr. Sprinkle that the pipes were clogged and it would be a little while before the tack started flowing. Mr. Sprinkle remained on top of his truck, as he normally did, waiting for the tack to flow. What he did not know, because Hammaker employees failed to tell him, was that, when the clog loosened, it would come out with a big “kapow.” He also did not know that, in addition to blowing air through, and heating the pipes, the Hammaker employees left on the valve that allowed tack to flow from their system into Mr. Sprinkle’s truck. When the clog finally loosened, the pipe came bursting out of the truck, spraying tack all over the truck and Mr. Sprinkle and knocking Mr. Sprinkle more than 10 feet to the ground.
Mr. Sprinkle’s knee was “pulverized” according to his doctor. He had a complicated surgery to reconstruct his knee, a long period of recovery, and will likely need knee replacement surgery in the future. After knocking him off his truck, Hammaker employees left Mr. Sprinkle sitting outside in the below-freezing temperature, until his supervisor arrived and called 911. There was testimony that Hammaker’s plant manager, Bryan Miller, was slurring his words and reeked of alcohol immediately after Mr. Sprinkle’s fall.
Attorneys Valerie Johnson and Narendra Ghosh and paralegal Elizabeth Weatherspoon provided valuable assistance throughout the trial.
Categories: News of the Firm, Results
In this case, plaintiffs are bringing collective action claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) based on the under-payment of wages and overtime at Smithfield Packing’s Tar Heel, North Carolina meat processing facility. Magistrate Judge Gates issued an opinion last week recommending that defendant’s motion to decertify the FLSA collective action be denied. If his recommendation is approved by the district judge, the case will proceed to trial as a collective action. The plaintiffs are represented by several lawyers, including Ann Groninger.
Continue for details from the opinion: Read more…
Categories: Judicial Decisions, Results
On Friday, August 20, 2010, a Cleveland County jury returned a unanimous verdict for our client, Danny Rhodes. Danny was injured at work in 1992 while working for a long haul trucker for Hersek Express Incorporated. Since Hersek had no workers’ compensation insurance, Danny had to get a judgment from a Superior Court judge. When he tried to collect the judgment in 2002, he learned that Hersek had become a new company – Diamond H Incorporated – and that Diamond H now owned all of the assets. Danny’s former attorney filed a complaint against the companies and their individual owners alleging claims of fraudulent transfer, civil conspiracy and piercing the corporate veil.
We became involved in the case in 2008. We obtained documents from the Department of Motor Vehicles, the companies’ bank and their accountant to show how the companies and its owners moved money and assets around. The jury found that Hersek fraudulently transferred five trucks to the new company; they also found that Diamond H and the owners of the two companies controlled Hersek to the extent that it had no separate corporate identity. Danny is now entitled to collect his judgment from Diamond H and the individual owners as well as from Hersek. Danny was represented by Ann Groninger and Paige Kurtz of Sprouse & Kurtz, PLLC.
In Simmons v. United Mortgage and Loan Investment, LLC, we have filed this reply brief with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in this wage and hour case. See here for a summary of the case. Ann Groninger, Burton Craige, and Narendra Ghosh are representing the plaintiffs, who are seeking to remedy the company’s failure to pay overtime to themselves and other Junior Asset Managers. Here is a summary of our argument to the Court:
Categories: News of the Firm
In Simmons v. United Mortgage and Loan Investment, LLC, we have filed this opening brief with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in this wage and hour case. The plaintiffs are Charlotte-based Junior Asset Managers for a mortgage company who were not paid overtime even though they worked more than 40 hours per week. They brought claims under the FLSA and NC Wage and Hour law based on the failure to pay overtime. The primary issue is whether the plaintiffs will be able to pursue their case as a collective and class action on behalf the other underpaid workers at the company. The defendants have tried to short-circuit the collective/class action process by tendering a limited settlement offer before other workers could be notified of the case. Ann Groninger, Burton Craige, and Narendra Ghosh are representing the plaintiffs. Read more…
Categories: News of the Firm