Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Reversal in W.D. Va. wrongful termination case

A panel of the Fourth Circuit reversed Judge Glen William's decision to grant summary judgment for the defendant in King v. Donnkenny, Inc., where the plaintiff claimed wrongful discharge and other tort claims. The Fourth Circuit remanded the case for consideration of the issue of whether or not the release of claims signed by King at the end of her employment was void as a matter of law, and therefore could not have any preclusive effect on the claims raised in her lawsuit.

Mary Lynn Tate represent the plaintiff, while attorneys from Woods Rogers represent the defendant. The panel included Judges Michael, King, and Traxler, none of whom are from Virginia, and all of whom were appointed by President Clinton. I suspect that the Clinton appointees from other states are likely to be more sympathetic in employee rights cases than many Virginia trial court judges (state or federal) and the Republican appointees on the Fourth Circuit.

On the subject of being reversed, Judge Williams told me years ago that he took some comfort in the fact that on those very few occasions when one of his decisions went all the way up the the Supreme Court of the United States and they decided he was wrong, the vote had always been 9-0; that way he knew for sure that he had missed it by a mile, and that a little more work on or greater clarity of expression in his opinion would not have made any difference.

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