HAMTRAMCK —A whistleblower lawsuit connected to the city’s former director of public services, Steve Shaya, was settled last week for $75,000, but with the addition of attorney fees, the real cost may have surpassed $300,000.
The Iraqi-born Chaldean, who was fired in 2014, sued the city, the previous police chief and others for $10 million, claiming his civil rights had been violated.
In March 2014, Shaya filed a federal lawsuit that said city officials hit back after he blew the whistle on police misconduct. He claimed he was targeted with racially disparaging language. He was called a “Chaldean prince” and was struck with false hit-and-run charges.
The charges were later dropped after he uncovered misconducts by city employees, police and elected officials. He claimed they were benefiting from city contracts with a towing company.
Shaya and his Plymouth-based attorney, Mark Koroi, will receive a check from Hamtramck’s insurance company because the city’s costs already reached the brink of the insurance deductible— $200,000.
Hamtramck City Manager Katrina Powell told MLive that the total attorney costs in the case surpassed $200,000 and that they were paid to two different companies.
Koroi released a statement saying there were three firms and 10 attorneys involved on behalf of Hamtramck, all through several periods of the court action.
“My impression was, as soon as they hit the deductible, it was a lot easier to get the case settled,” Koroi said. “So, if that’s the case, that tells me, why would you spend $200,000 on a case that only cost ($75,000)? Why wouldn’t you have settled before they got to that point?”
“It was important for the city to show that plaintiff’s wide-reaching claims were all meritless and that there was no pattern or practice by city employees or officials to discriminate against anyone,” Hamtramck City Attorney J. Travis Mihelick said.
“The city understands that there is a cost of doing business associated with lawsuits,” Mihelick said in statement emailed to MLive, “but are very pleased that the only court opinion on record shows no wrongdoing by the city or any of the defendants and finds no merit in any of the plaintiff’s claims.”