PUSD Settlement totals $850,000

  Former employees J.C. Eaglesmith and Eileen Cox and their attorneys received a total of $850,000 as settlement for their discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed against the Plumas Unified School District.

   According to a copy the settlement agreement provided by the school district, the suit was settled on July 2. The district approved checks for half the total amount ($425,000) on Aug. 1.

  “We paid a lump sum,” Superintendent Micheline Miglis said Aug. 1. “This ($425,000) is the district’s contribution. The insurance pays as well.”

  Last week Feather Publishing reported settlement payments from Plumas Unified School District of $425,000 total: $245,333 to Eaglesmith, $101,858.80 to Cox and $77,796.20 to their attorneys, Siegel & Yee.

  The settlement agreement, provided to Feather Publishing on Monday, Aug. 12, further delineates the shares of the settlement.

  Eaglesmith was awarded a total of $359,159.20; Cox got $101,859.80; and Siegel and Yee received $388,981.00. 

District’s response

  On Aug. 5, Miglis emailed Feather Publishing the following statement:

  “The Plumas Unified School District announces that it resolved the pending lawsuit, Eaglesmith, et al. v. Ray, et al. Case No. 2:11-CV-00098-JAM-AC, with the remaining plaintiffs Mrs. Eileen Cox and Mr. Jerald Clinton Eaglesmith by way of a settlement.

  “The express terms of the settlement are contained in a settlement agreement and release. The lawsuit will be dismissed with prejudice.

  “The District admits no liability or fault by the settlement.

  “Previous to this settlement, the District prevailed on summary judgment against plaintiffs Bruce Barnes and Ramona Eaglesmith, and also defeated all of Mr. Eaglesmith’s claims of discriminatory harassment by summary judgment.

  “By entering into this settlement, there will be no further disruption of school business or the education of our students through the litigation process.

  “The parties have both agreed in the Settlement Agreement to not disclose the contents of the Settlement publicly.”

  However, the agreement stated “The parties acknowledge that the district is subject to the California Public Records Act, and that this agreement constitutes a public record of a type that is generally required to be disclosed upon request.”

  Feather Publishing requested a copy of the agreement on Thursday, Aug. 8.

The cost

  When Eaglesmith said back in April, “It’s not costing children anything,” he did not know that PUSD would make payments from its own pocket, Eaglesmith’s lawyer, Peter Haberfeld, told Feather Publishing.

  On Aug. 9, Eaglesmith said in an email “To date we do not know where the funds actually came from. The fact that PUSD issued some of the checks means nothing.

  “We also do not know who paid PUSD’s lawyers and how much.”

  After receiving the settlement agreement, it appears the district and its insurance company split the settlement payments evenly at $425,000 each.

  The last paragraph of the district’s response states: “The District’s contribution to the Settlement payments certainly impacts the operating budget of the District.”

Lawsuit history

  This wasn’t the first time that Eaglesmith filed a discrimination lawsuit against school officials.

Under “disputed evidentiary issues” in the lawsuit filed against PUSD, plaintiff Eaglesmith declared the intention “to file a motion in limine (at the beginning) to exclude any evidence concerning prior lawsuits on the ground that such evidence is not relevant to the issues in the instant lawsuit.”

  On Aug. 14, 1995, Eaglesmith appealed the Northern District of California Court’s dismissal of his lawsuit, 73 F.3d 857: J.C. Eaglesmith v. Jack Ward, Mendocino County Superintendent of Schools, as posted on

  Eaglesmith alleged in his initial lawsuit that Ward “discriminated against him on account of his race and religion, and constructively discharged him as coordinator of the county’s Title VII Native American Bilingual Program.”

  That complaint was dismissed, and Eaglesmith’s appeal was rejected Nov. 6, 1995.

Happy ending?

  Both former employees are now retired and in the settlement agreement have agreed that they will never work or hold a volunteer position for the district again.

  Cox and Eaglesmith also agreed that their only comment when asked about the settlement agreement will be limited to: “The matter has been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.”


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