Press Release

Attorney for Monteiro Reacts to Decision of the City to Respect the Judgment in Monteiro v. City of Cambridge

August 19, 2011

After a closed door meeting with members of the City Council, the Cambridge City Manager, Robert Healy, announced that the City would not attempt further review of the decision of the Massachusetts Appeals Court, affirming the judgment entered in favor of former City employee Malvina Monteiro on June 4, 2010. The judgment entered, with accrued interest and fees paid to the plaintiff, will result in a damages award of over $8 million. The City itself has paid in excess of $2 million for its legal defense against the claims brought by Ms. Monteiro, having brought in WilmerHale LLP for the trial and then Ropes & Gray LLP for the appeal. The case was tried to jury twice: at the first trial, the jury hung, unable to adjudicate any full claim before them after over six days of deliberation. The case went to trial a second time in May of 2008 and resulted, after two full days of deliberation, in verdicts favoring Ms. Monteiro, finding that she had suffered retaliation during the course of her employment and in its termination, and that she should be awarded damages in excess of $1 million to compensate her for her losses and another $3.5 million as punitive damages based on the City’s outrageous conduct and to deter similar conduct in the future. At issue in the case were the decisions and conduct of the City Manager himself. In post-trial rulings, found justified by the Appeals Court, the Trial Court found the following:
  • “Healy simply was not credible, and the jury was entitled to form this opinion based on his demeanor on the stand and his inconsistent and incoherent testimony.”
  • The City Manager “mounted a deliberate, systematic campaign to punish the plaintiff as a reprisal for her effrontery in lodging a discrimination claim.”
  • His conduct was “reprehensible” and he showed “conscious disregard for the law.”
  • “The city of Cambridge does not get a free pass to unlawfully retaliate against its employees and avoid the imposition of punitive damages simply by virtue of its status as a taxpayer funded municipality.”
These findings and the Trial Court’s rulings were affirmed by the Appeals Court. The Court noted succinctly that there was “ample evidence” that the City’s conduct was “outrageous.” Ellen J. Zucker, who has served as lead counsel for Ms. Monteiro throughout the litigation and who argued her appeal, reacted to the statement of the City Manager: “This matter was presented to a jury comprised of a retired police officer, a school principal, an accountant and others. They took their job seriously and deliberated for over two days before delivering their verdicts. They understood what the City had done and delivered their decisions. The Trial Court then took care in reviewing the record and issued its rulings in an impressively thorough decision, affirming the jury’s verdicts without exception. The Appeals Court this week decided that there was ample evidence in the record of ‘outrageous’ conduct.” “I am pleased that the City will now end its efforts to avoid responsibility for what it has done and that it will pay the judgment owed. But I am also disappointed. The City Manager’s statement suggests that there is work yet to be done: it reflects no sense of what went wrong here or his own responsibility either for the treatment of Ms. Monteiro or for the costly battle in which he has obliged the City to engage. I hope that City leaders will take stock and consider the conduct that has led them to this place.” Within its Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits practice, Burns & Levinson attorneys represent clients in discrimination, wrongful termination, civil rights, sexual harassment, non-competition and trade secret, and wage and hour compliance suits.

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