PITTSBURGH PA Dec 6 2010
By: Brett Davis/Staff
PRIVATE OFFICER NEWS
http://www.privateofficer.com/ — A drunk driver responsible for the fatal crash that killed a 7-year-old girl in Pittsburgh is in custody thanks to a private security officer who witnessed the incident.
Police say that Travis Isiminger crashed head on into a car containing a woman and her two children.
Isiminger was arraigned Sunday night on charges including vehicular homicide and driving under the influence after a security officer followed the man and notified officers of his whereabouts.
Pittsburgh police that 7-year-old Lexa Cleland died in the accident.
The girl’s mother and 11-month-old sister were also injured.
Police say Isiminger fled the scene on foot and a security guard cornered him at a building containing officers for the Department of Homeland Security.
Investigators say the Holbrook man had a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit for drivers. He is being held without bail.
Walker will appear before Chief Superior Court Judge Matthew O. Simmons at 9 a.m., facing one count of bribery, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Walker has been with the school system since 2006. Last year, he also was “government affairs liaison” for Southeast Corrections, a probation services company based in McDonough, records show.
Prosecutors allege that Walker, in his capacity with Southeast Corrections, offered campaign contributions to Clayton Chief Magistrate Daphne Walker — no relation — in hopes of obtaining a contract to provide probation monitoring services for the county state and magistrate courts.
Southeast Corrections and four other companies were competing for the contract, and Judge Walker was serving on a committee appointed by the county commission to evaluate the bids.
Judge Walker said last week that John Walker offered her the bribe in November 2009 and she reported it to the Clayton County District Attorney’s Office. The Southeast Corrections bid was removed from consideration, records show.
Charles White, Clayton County schools spokesman, said last week that school system officials were unaware and had not approved of John Walker’s outside work with the probation services company. He said school officials didn’t have confirmation that John Walker had been indicted on the bribery charge until last week, even though it happened Oct. 20.
Walker has declined comment on the charge. He was still at his school system job last week, and, based on school board policy, no disciplinary action is anticipated until the criminal case is resolved, White said.
As director of investigations and student engagement for the school system, Walker manages security and oversees background checks. He ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the General Assembly in 2008.
Records show he was CEO of Management Offender Services, a company that was based out of his Jonesboro home and dissolved in 2008.
The case would be among the biggest of the current term, and could establish binding standards over high-stakes liability involving employers large and small.
1Email Print CommentThe justices announced Monday they had accepted the Arkansas-based company’s appeal in a case of corporate versus worker rights, and will hold oral arguments next spring. A divided 6-5 ruling by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this year had allowed the combined, multiparty litigation to move ahead to one trial, where a verdict against the company could result in billions of dollars in damages.
At issue is whether as many as 1.6 million current and former Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune 500) employees can band together in their claims of discrimination, which they say has occurred over the past decade, at least. The plaintiffs allege women were paid less than, and were given fewer opportunities for promotion than, their male counterparts. They seek back pay and punitive damages against the world’s largest retailer.
The high court will decide only whether to handle the original lawsuit as a class action, instead of lower courts potentially being flooded with thousands of individual discrimination claims against the company. A potential ruling by the justices against Wal-Mart permitting class action could put severe pressure on the company to settle the claims out of court.
The lawsuit alleges the company’s “strong, centralized structure fosters or facilitates gender stereotyping and discrimination.”
The workers bringing suit also say women make up more than 70% of Wal-Mart’s hourly workforce but in the past decade made up less than one-third of its store management.
The current litigation was filed in 2001 by Betty Dukes, a store greeter in Pittsburg, California, along with five of her co-workers.
“It has taken a very long time, and a tremendous amount of work, but it looks like we’re finally going to get our day in court,” Dukes told CNN earlier this spring. “That’s all we’ve ever asked for.”
The federal appeals court had concluded there was enough merit in the claims to proceed to trial on a class-action track. Since the lawsuit was filed, both sides of the dispute have held so-called “discovery” hearings, where preliminary testimony was taken to establish facts.
The high court will not judge the merits of the sweeping claims at this stage, just whether a class-action trial can proceed. The parties have the option of settling the dispute out of court at some point in the future.
The company has protested the size of the class action, which it called “historic” in scope, saying it would be too onerous to litigate. The company has more than 3,400 stores in 41 regions.
Declaring class-action status for the lawsuit raises the financial and judicial stakes considerably, since more individual plaintiffs can now join, creating greater potential liability for the company being sued. In federal courts, such certification must generally follow well-established principles to ensure a lawsuit would not become so large as to be impracticable, and would allow the parties to fairly represent the common interests of the larger class of plaintiffs.
“Wal-Mart tries to project an improved image as a good corporate citizen,” said Brad Seligman, a Berkeley, California, lawyer representing the female workers. “But no amount of PR (public relations) is going to work until it addresses the claims of its female employees.”
Wal-Mart also has been accused in separate lawsuits of discrimination against African-American truck drivers and workers with disabilities. In 2001 the company settled 13 lawsuits by paying out $6 million.
Beyond this particular suit, most workplace discrimination lawsuits fail to reach a court for resolution, according to data compiled by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
In 2003, when the Wal-Mart litigation was in its preliminary court stages, about 27,000 sex discrimination claims nationwide were resolved administratively by the EEOC, little changed from the prior decade. More than 57 percent– some 15,000 claims — were ruled administratively to have “no reasonable cause” and those usually were dismissed.
Just over 10% were judged to have merit, resulting in a total of $94.2 million in settlements, or $34,200 on average per case, according to the data, which include all such claims, not just those involving Wal-Mart.
The current case is Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (10-277). A ruling can be expected by June.