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Mike Guss Obtains Summary Disposition In Federal Civil Rights Claim

Stacy Erwin Oakes v Karen Weaver and City of Flint, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.¬†Plaintiff was the Chief Legal Officer of the City of Flint until she was discharged in January 2017. She filed a complaint alleging that she was fired because of the legal positions she took as the CLO, claiming the City violated her First Amendment rights by retaliating against her for her constitutionally protected speech, and that the firing violated Michigan’s Whistleblowers’ Protection Act, and was contrary to public policy under Michigan law. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that her various complaints about putting the City at legal or financial risk led to her termination. At the close of discovery, we filed a motion for summary judgment on each count. The Court granted our motion, holding that all of plaintiff’s speech feel within the ambit of her official employment duties, and thus, was not protected conduct under the First Amendment. Further, the Court held that plaintiff’s claim under the WPA failed as a matter of law because she did not report any actual completed illegal acts and most of her objections did not concern any purported illegality at all. Finally, the Court denied the plaintiff’s public policy claim, holding that her supposed reporting of illegal activity was preempted by the WPA and she did not establish any of the limited exceptions.