Three people who used to work for Lake County and said they were fired because they voted for her opponent in the 2016 election were given more than $2.6 million by a jury.
Erin Cartwright Weinstein was elected to be the Lake County Circuit Court Clerk in December 2016. One of the first things she did after being elected was to fire three of the top assistants of the clerk she beat in the election, Keith Brin.
The Chicago Sun-Times said that during the six days of trial testimony, Weinstein and the county attorneys gave many different reasons for why these people were fired.
Court records show that Weinstein, her husband, or her top assistant saw Michelle Higgins, Tiffany Deram, and Joshua Smothers at parades and other events with Brin.
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The jury gave Higgins $1.1 million in compensation for his pain and suffering, lost wages, and pension, plus punitive damages. Deram got $1 million, and Smothers got $542,000.
Paul Vickrey, the lawyer for the former workers, said that the jury’s decision on Friday showed that they thought they were fired because they weren’t on Weinstein’s team. He said that each of the three plaintiffs had asked for $50,000 in punitive damages, but the jury gave each of them $75,000.
Vickrey said Monday, “I think the jury was trying to say something.”
Weinstein said that the firings had nothing to do with how the three people felt about Brin. She said in an email on Monday that she “would never fire someone for supporting my opponent” and that the firings were “in the best interest of my administration.”
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