Updated 6:05 p.m.
A federal appeals court today affirmed a jury's verdict in favor of McGuireWoods and a McGuireWoods partner in Baltimore in a suit filed by a legal secretary alleging retaliation and defamation.
The suit, filed in October 2006 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, alleged the firm and a partner, Joseph Tirone, retaliated against Nancy Adair, who sought time off under the Family Medical Leave Act, or FMLA. A jury in 2007 sided with the defendants. Click here for a copy of Adair's complaint. A copy of McGuireWoods' memo in support of a motion to dismiss is here.
In a three-page unpublished per curiam opinion today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit found the evidence “supports the jury’s finding that McGuireWoods did not interfere with Adair’s right to seek leave under the FMLA, nor was she terminated for having sought protection under the FMLA.” The court ruled on the briefs.
Adair, who is a lawyer and a member of the Maryland bar, began working at McGuireWoods in 1997 as a legal secretary. In 2004, she was assigned to work with Tirone, who is now a partner in Baltimore in the firm’s energy and utilities department. Adair was fired in 2005. At the time she was seeking leave to care for her ailing mother. Adair was represented in the trial court by Baltimore solo practitioner Mary Keating, who did not immediately return a call seeking comment this afternoon. Adair was pro se on appeal.
Adair said she was disappointed with the appellate court ruling. "The court's decision doesn’t enforce the provision of the FMLA, and it certainly doesn’t provide justice to the employee,” Adair said.
McGuireWoods and Tirone were represented by Baltimore-based Tydings & Rosenberg. Lead counsel for the defendants, William Carrier III, a partner in Baltimore, said: “We were pleased after the verdict and pleased how the appeals court ruled. We are particularly pleased that this is over with.”