By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — The 19th District Court is appealing the federal court ruling that leaves the court responsible for the payment of the judgment in the Julie Hultgren (formerly Pucci) constitutional rights violation lawsuit against Judge Mark Somers.
The City Council March 3 approved $30,000 to extend the contract with the Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone law firm for continued litigation in the case.
Councilman Mark Shooshanian was the lone dissenter in the 6-1 vote.
“I hope we can resolve the case soon and stop paying money towards the case,” said Councilman Thomas Tafelski.
In 2013, David Lawson, U.S. District Judge for Eastern District of Michigan, ruled the judgement needs to be decided and collected on a state level, not by the city of Dearborn.
The ruling made the 19th District Court accountable for the now $1.2 million judgement. The court then filed an appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals.
Hultgren was baffled when the appeal was filed.
“As far as I’m concerned the trial is over,” Hultgren said. “I won and this is nothing more than a battle of egos at the taxpayers’ expense.”
On Feb. 13 the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal jury’s decision that 19th District Court Judge Mark Somers violated former deputy court administrator Julie Hultgren’s constitutional rights to free speech and due process when he fired her in 2007.
In 2007, Hultgren filled a lawsuit against Somers, the 19th District Court and the city of Dearborn alleging the violation of her due process rights and claims of religious, marital-status, and sex discrimination.
In 2011, a federal jury found in favor of Hultgren on the first two counts and in Somers’ favor on the third of the original lawsuit filed. The jury also awarded Hultgren $734,361 in fees.
The jury concluded that Somers fired Hultgren and eliminated her position as retaliation for her complaints against him.
Hultgren currently works in city’s human resources department as a senior human resources analyst.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected].)