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Success story: Michigan city pays in settled whistleblower suit

Not all whistleblower success stories involve start-to-finish litigation. Sometimes success comes when the parties responsible for unethical or illegal activity pay without seeing the trial through. In addition to the financial costs these wrongful parties incur, their activities are called into question in full view of the public eye. In the end, that is what success means: Paying the price for illegal activity in every way.

The city of Hamtramck recently paid its own price outside of litigation for alleged illegal and unethical activity. Three years ago, when Steve Shaya was the public works director in Hamtramck, he filed a whistleblower lawsuit targeting the city and its police officials, but it all started in 2013. Here are the details.

On an unnamed date, Shaya complained about a violation of Hamtramck's ethics laws involving a police officer who was subcontracted to repair police vehicles. Reportedly, this activity was a conflict of interest.

On Dec. 11, 2013—after Shaya's ethics violation complaint—the police allegedly tried to frame Shaya in a hit-and-run accident, charging him with leaving the scene. That same day, Shaya requested copies of the documentation related to the accident. Six days later, all charges against Shaya were dropped. In February of 2014, Shaya initiated a whistleblower lawsuit.

In the end, Shaya came out of his ordeal a victor when the involved parties finally reached a settlement of $75,000, which Hamtramck paid last week. Shaya's attorney said that he and Shaya were "reasonably satisfied" with the final settlement.

Shaya, who now serves as general manager in the Detroit Public Works Department, shows how important it is not to back down when pursuing justice. When whistleblowers have the law on their side and a good attorney to guide them, success is not as elusive as you may think.

Source: The Detroit News, "Hamtramck settles whistleblower lawsuit," Nicquel Terry, April 02, 2017

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