CONSOLIDATED INFRASTRUCTURE MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY v. THOMAS
TORTS: Whistleblower Statute; Limitations period and 90 remedy period
OPINION BY CUNNINGHAM (MINTON NOT SITTING)
DATE RENDERED: 11/26/2008
Appellant/Cross-Appellee CIMA, Inc. was a municipal corporation formed to administer water and sewer services for Russellville and Auburn. In August 2001, Allen, CIMA’s safety director and Appellee/Cross-Appellant, sent a letter to CIMA’s board threatening to have Ky. OSHA conduct a survey if safety violations were not repaired. In February 2002, CIMA informed Allen that he was being laid off for budgetary reasons. The following week, Allen sent a letter to the Kentucky Labor Cabinet documenting the safety violations at CIMA and requesting an unannounced inspection of the facility. Allen later sued CIMA for violating Kentucky’s Whistleblower Act, and was awarded $40,000 in compensatory damages, plus attorney’s fees. The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment. On appeal, CIMA argued that Allen’s claims were time barred by KRS 61.103(2) which reads in part “employees alleging a violation…may bring a civil action for appropriate injunctive relief or punitive damages, or both, within ninety (90) days…” In affirming, the Supreme Court held that, under the plain language of the Whistleblower Act, the 90-limitation only applied to claims for punitive damages and injunctive relief, not to compensatory damages. Secondly, the Supreme Court rejected CIMA’s argument that Allen was not entitled to Whistleblower Act Protection since he did not report the plant condition until after he was a laid off. The Court held that the threat of reporting—which Allen did in his letter to CIMA’s board– triggers the protections of the Whistleblower Act. Finally, on the cross-appeal, the Court affirmed the trial court’s ruling that CIMA was not required to post a supersedeas bond upon its dissolution. Since the CIMA was absorbed into the cities of Russellville and Auburn, the statutory exemption for governmental entitiessupersedeas bonds applied.
From SC November