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Miniex v. Houston Housing Authority

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division

April 17, 2019

KAREN MINIEX, Plaintiff,
v.
HOUSTON HOUSING AUTHORITY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY F. ATLAS JUDGE.

         Before the Court in this False Claims Act (“FCA”) retaliation lawsuit is Plaintiff Karen Miniex's Proposal for Final Judgment (“Motion for Final Judgment” or “Motion”) [Doc. # 226]. Defendant Houston Housing Authority (“HHA”) has responded, [1] and Miniex replied.[2] The Motion is now ripe for decision. Based on the parties' briefing, pertinent matters of record, and relevant legal authorities, the Court grants in part and denies in part Miniex's Motion for Final Judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         HHA, one of the nation's largest public housing authorities, hired Miniex in March 2012 to serve as its general counsel. Miniex served in that role until her employment was terminated in December 2016 following a dispute with HHA's president and CEO, Tory Gunsolley, over the proper handling of a fraud investigation. Miniex sued HHA in February 2017, alleging she was retaliated against and ultimately fired for going outside the chain of command to report her concerns about fraud in violation of 31 U.S.C. § 3730(h).

         On March 21, 2019, a jury entered a verdict in Plaintiff Miniex's favor on her FCA retaliation claim. Verdict Form [Doc. # 233]. The jury assessed the following damages:

. Back pay: $370, 571.00;
. Front pay: $600, 000.00;
. Past pain and suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment in life: $317, 750.00;
. Future pain and suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment in life: $215, 000.00.

         On March 25, 2019, Miniex filed her Motion for Final Judgment, requesting the Court enter final judgment against HHA in the sum of $1, 938, 409.16, plus post-judgment interest, attorney's fees, and costs.

         On March 26, 2019, HHA filed its Response, requesting the Court enter final judgment against HHA only in the sum of $1, 388, 288.00. HHA also informed the Court that it will move for judgment as a matter of law and a new trial after final judgment is entered.

         II. DISCUSSION

         The parties clash over the proper method to calculate Miniex's back wages and whether she is entitled to the noneconomic damages awarded by the jury. HHA does not dispute the jury's assessment of $600, 000 in front pay or Miniex's calculation of $46, 786.16 in interest on back pay.[3] The Court concludes that the award to Miniex should include $370, 571.00 in backpay, $46, 786.16 in interest on that back pay, the statutory double back pay of $370, 571.00, $600, 000.00 in front pay, and $532, 750.00 for past and future pain and suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, or loss of enjoyment in life.

         A. ...


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