Settlement reached in Jeanie Thompson lawsuit 3.19

Written by David Green.

A settlement was accepted by both sides to end the dispute over the lay-off of former Morenci Elementary School principal Jeanie Thompson.

Although no judgment was made against the Morenci Board of Education and superintendent Kyle Griffith in relation to a lawsuit filed by Thompson, a case evaluation team awarded her a financial settlement of $45,000 to bring the issue to a close. A third of that cost will paid by the school’s insurance company.

Thompson filed suit in January 2007, seeking $83,602 in lost salary for breach of contract, plus the loss of benefits she would have received.

Three other counts—charges of acting fraudulently, emotional distress and loss of consortium in the marriage—were dismissed by Lenawee County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Pickard.

Judge Pickard held onto the breach of contract complaint, but his decision wasn’t based on the charges filed in the lawsuit. Instead, he told attorneys that Thompson failed to receive adequate compensation (lack of consideration) for accepting the terms of a new contract signed in April 2006.

The new contract allowed for the layoff of any administrator after a 30-day notice. She and maintenance supervisor Dan Miller were laid off three months later as the district attempted to trim spending from a projected $300,000 deficit.

Judge Pickard said that school districts typically offer administrators two-year contracts that are renewed annually. He said the new contract benefitted the school district, but offered administrators no compensation for what they gave up.

Judge Pickard suggested resolving the case by negotiating a cash settlement and the matter was referred to a team of lawyers for case evaluation.

Under Michigan court rules, said school attorney Bill Vogelzang, case evaluation is used in civil cases when one party is seeking financial damages. Typically, three attorneys are asked to review statements from both sides and come up with a settlement acceptable to each party—generally a compromise to what was originally sought....

 

  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
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    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
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    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
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    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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