21 March 2005 – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr recently secured a legally and politically important victory for the City of Cambridge in Middlesex Superior Court.
In 1998, Malvina Monteiro, the Executive Secretary of the City’s Police Review and Advisory Board, filed a Complaint alleging race and national origin discrimination against the City, in the terms and conditions of her employment. Five years later, Ms. Monteiro was terminated after the City discovered that she had attended graduate school full-time, in 1997, the academic year preceding the filing of her complaint. The week before trial, over the City’s strenuous objections, the plaintiff was allowed to amend her Complaint to allege retaliatory discharge, a claim on which neither party had conducted discovery. At trial, the City argued that her termination was too remote in time from the filing of the complaint (five years) to support a finding of retaliation. The plaintiff countered that the City had known all along about her graduate school attendance years earlier, and that the stated reason was a pretext for retaliation.
After a six-week trial (including six days of jury deliberations), the jury returned a verdict in favor of the City on the plaintiff’s original claim of discrimination, finding that the City had not discriminated against the plaintiff in the terms and conditions of her employment. Unable to reach agreement on the late-added issue of retaliatory discharge, the jury reported itself hung on that issue. The Court discharged the jury, but, at the City’s request, refrained from declaring a mistrial as it now considers the City’s Motion for a Directed Verdict (previously deferred) on this remaining aspect of the case. The Court will determine whether a five-year hiatus is too long as a matter of law to allow any inference of retaliation to be drawn.
The trial team consisted of Joan Lukey, Jennifer L. Carpenter, Heather Lunn and Kate Iovieno.