Appeals court to hear arguments in Emily Gallup case
The Third District Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear arguments Friday in an appeal filed more than two years ago of a jury verdict involving former Family Court mediator Emily Gallup.
In October 2012, a Sacramento County jury found in Gallup’s favor all aspects of a whistle-blowing lawsuit, awarding her $313,206 in damages. Gallup is represented by M. Catherine Jones and George Allen.
The jury was asked to determine whether Gallup was fired in retaliation for whistle-blowing, or because of a pattern of undermining her supervisor that culminated in an act of egregious misconduct — taking pages of notes from her supervisor’s diary that contained confidential case information.
Gallup’s suit against Nevada County Superior Court alleged she was wrongfully terminated after blowing the whistle on the court’s failure to follow state laws.
Family Court handles cases where parties seek court intervention to solve family issues. Judges hear and decide cases involving divorce, paternity, domestic violence and abuse, child custody, support and visitation.
According to Gallup’s attorneys, she was fired because she would not stop asking questions and challenging the system.
Gallup’s concerns included a dispute over whether criminal records could be accessed in some cases; the time allowed for mediation; reviewing of the court files; collateral contacts; and separate mediation in domestic violence cases.
The jury found that Gallup had reasonable cause to believe there had been a violation of a state statute or regulation and that she had disclosed that belief to her supervisors.
They also found that her attempts to disclose that belief had resulted in an adverse action — being fired — and that retaliation was the motive for her firing.
They agreed the court did not have a valid reason to terminate her and that she was caused substantial harm because of being fired.
The award was appealed by the attorney for the Administrative Office of the Courts, which is representing Nevada County Superior Court, on the basis that Gallup was required to file an administrative complaint with the labor commissioner, and that she did not exhaust the proper remedies before filing her suit in Sacramento County.
According to Jones, state laws have been clarified once the appeal was filed, with new case law stating that a person does not need to exhaust those remedies.
“There never was a need, that’s our position,” she said. “It’s not new law, it’s just clarifying the law.”
AOC attorney Tim Yeung, however, said that he will argue that there was a requirement to exhaust that remedy, and that the recent change in law cannot be applied retroactively.
There is no specific timeline for the Appellate Court to make a decision. Gallup’s attorneys noted that the jury award from 2012 has been accruing interest at the rate of nearly $63 a day — more than $50,000 in interest as of today.
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229.
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