Five years after the initial filing of Elaine Allyn vs. Fallbrook Union Elementary School District in May 2012, the Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division One, State Of California has denied motions from both sides of the case.
On July 11, the appeals court filed its decision which denied the district’s appeal of the judgment and orders of Superior Court Judge Jacqueline M. Stern, notwithstanding the verdict. The decision also affirmed the order denying the plaintiff’s motion for attorney fees.
Allyn filed the suit against FUESD after being terminated in May of 2012, saying what led to her losing her job was her refusal to delete email archives in an effort by her supervisors (superintendent Candace Singh and associate superintendent, business services Ray Proctor) to cover up a violation of public policy by misusing public funds.
The first trial, which ran seven days in October 2013, ended in a mistrial declared by Stern due to the time consumed versus the established 10-day availability of the jury.
The re-trial started the end of January 2015. On Feb. 26, 2015, a jury found that FUESD had wrongfully terminated Allyn, the district’s former information technology director and retaliated against her. The jury verdict awarded to Allyn $1,046,000 in lost income and $148,000 in general damages.
In response to the Appeals Court ruling, the district’s lawyer, Paul V. Carelli IV of Artiano Shinoff & Holtz, provided this statement:
“The District is clearly disappointed in the appellate court’s decision, and is reviewing its options to challenge it further. Although the jury found in the plaintiff’s favor, the leadership of FUESD steadfastly maintains that Mrs. Allyn was not a whistleblower, and that her own misconduct justified her termination from the district. Since Mrs. Allyn’s termination, the FUESD IT Department has improved dramatically, to the great benefit of students and employees. The board and administration will continue to make the decisions they believe are in the students’ and employees’ best interest.”
Allyn’s lawyer, Michael Curran of Curran & Curran, said he will be making a demand on FUESD amending the judgment to add 8 percent interest to the prejudgment amount, and also send it to the District Attorney’s office.
According to Curran, “currently the District owes Ms. Allyn $1,194,000 plus legal accumulated interest since February 2015 of $230,000+.”
Curran added, “It is unlikely the district will take further action (and appeal to the Supreme Court); at this point, they simply need to take responsibility and pay the judgment.”
Curran also said the ruling is a “total victory and vindication for Elaine and our firm.”