Chicago State University To Pay $4.3 Million Owed To Misconduct WhistleblowerBy Emily Marks, UniversityHerald Reporter
Chicago State University has agreed to pay $4.3 million to a former school attorney on Thursday. This marks the end of a whistleblower lawsuit.
The agreement came after the public university told a Cook County judge that it would immediately pay James Crowley. Crowley said that he was fired in 2010 after he reported about misconduct by top university officials, Chicago Tribune reported.
In 2014, a jury ordered Chicago State University to pay Crowley over $3 million. This included $1 million in back pay and $2 million in punitive damages, along with attorney fees.
The school refused to pay while it challenged the jury verdict. This led to an increase in interest in the amount it owed.
The decision was upheld by the Illinois Appellate last year. The judgment amount increased with 6 percent interest, which was earned since the verdict and Crowley's "front pay." This is the money that he would have earned if he worked between the time of the jury decision and the final order.
According to Chicago Sun Times, the former school attorney has only been able to find part-time work ever since he lost his job at the university. His lawyer, Anthony Pinelli, said that Crowley has been living off his retirement savings.
Crowley's case is said to be the first that stemmed from a whistleblower claim filed under the state ethics act. This act became law back in 2003 and included protection for employees who disclose unethical behavior.
Crowley expressed his relief that the lawsuit has finally reached an end. He also said that he hopes for the future success of Chicago State University, which has a noble mission and deserves the support.
The university's spokesperson Sabrina Land confirmed that the institution will pay $1.5 million. The rest is said to be covered by the school's insurance company. This is still unsure though since the insurance carrier, Illinois National Insurance, contested that it was not obligated to cover the order.