Employee's breach of contract award is reduced by Court
Renard Slomka sued the Hamtramck Housing Commission for breach of contract and unlawful termination, and secured a judgment of just over $200,000.00. In the third appeal involving her claim, her employer asked the Court of Appeals to reduce the award by lowering the interest rate that was paid on money owing under the contract and by setting off his pension benefits. The Defendant raised a number of other issues which were summarily dispensed with by the Court of Appeals.
With regard to the two former issues, the Plaintiff pointed out that the claims raised by the employer on appeal were 'affirmative defenses' which the employer was required to raise at the outset of the lawsuit, but did not. The Court agreed, however, it held that since the employee didn't raise the inadequacy of the Defendant's Affirmative Defenses at the time, the employer could still raise them late....? So the Defendant-employer's failure to comply with the Court Rules is excused because the Plaintiff-employee did not bring the failure to the Court's attention immediately.
The Court also held that while the employer did not raise a pension set-off argument, as required, at the beginning of the case, it did allege that IT had "satisfied" its duty to the employee. The Court held that this "similar" affirmative defense was adequate to allow the defendant to claim a set-off for pension benefits.
The parties' contract had provided for 9% interest on unpaid contract payments, but applying the usury statute, the Court reduced the interest payment to 7%.