Not the "tort reformers", apparently....
Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, David Bernstein relates something he read on Overlawyered, about two secretaries who settled a sexual harassment case for $450,000.00. Bernstein comments, "the complainant's in the 'Ride Them Hard' case won a settlement, apparently largely because the school district's lawyer was thought to have mishandled the investigation, and the distict was afraid this would make them look bad before a jury.... Regardless, this might just win my vote for the most ridiculous case of the year." Elsewhere on the Internet the settlement is declared the "Outrageous lawsuit story of the year."
The news accounts which inspire all of this horror relate,
The two secretaries' claims came from a comment Assistant Superintendent Thomas J. Kirschling made to them and two others in July 2002. At some point mid-month, Kirschling said "I ride them hard and put them away wet."
The two secretaries sent him a memo saying they were outraged. He later explained and apologized, according to a subsequent memo.
Kirschling was apparently using a rural idiom that means someone is tired or worked hard. The phrase is taken from the need to cool down a horse after strenuous exercise. Only a mistreated horse is stabled while it is still sweating.
After the women complained, the district assigned an outside attorney to investigate, but that probe inadvertently lapsed.
After the suit was filed, school officials said Grosskreutz recommended settling the claims and updating the district's sexual harassment policies. The district is reviewing its sexual harassment policies.
That is, the coverage is very sympathetic to the school district and defendant, and relates their version of events qualified only by the word "apparently". Another news story relates,
At the time of the complaints, district Superintendent Fredrick Nickles said the district's affirmative action office would look into the remarks.Okay, so what's wrong with this picture. The School Board supposedly conducted its own internal investigation through its Affirmative Action Office, and also contracted for an independent investigation through outside counsel. When an undefined problem with the outside attorney developed, no new attorney was brought into the case.
After the initial 2002 report, the district hired an outside attorney to research the remark, Davis said, because they wanted the investigation into a top staffer to be without taint.
However, the attorney they hired apparently did not do the work, Davis said.
"Something developed, something personal with the legal representative, and it was never reported back to the (district) administrators," Davis said. The investigation "kind of just fell through the cracks, and that later on created problems for the district because it looked like we didn't show any concern for the issue of the harassment."
These are the facts deemed so outrageous by the school board and its insurance carrier that they opted to settle for $450,000.00? Why am I thinking that there is a lot more to this story.
It appears that Overlawyered seeks to "objectively" relate summaries of news coverage, thereby disclaiming any responsibility for error, omission or misrepresentation that finds its way into their content by virtue of their failure to engage in any analysis or fact-checking. Given their agenda, perhaps their preference for stenography should not be surprising. But it makes me wonder why anybody takes them seriously.