Sheraden woman wins $645,000 from Pittsburgh in breach-of-contract lawsuit

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A Sheraden woman was awarded more than $600,000 in lost wages and future earnings against the city of Pittsburgh this week in a breach of contract case.

Rosanne Hendrick became a full-time emergency dispatcher with the city in 1989. In 2003, she made allegations about illegal gambling activity at the emergency operations center, and she said that when fellow employees learned of her report, they began to retaliate against her, eventually resulting in her termination in March 2004.

She filed a grievance to challenge it, and while that was pending, the city was merging its system with Allegheny County.

Because of the pending grievance, according to Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Judith L. A. Friedman, Ms. Hendrick was eligible to be on the transfer eligibility list if she won her job back.

“The city had even told plaintiff she was on the list,” Judge Friedman wrote in her opinion. “In fact, the city intentionally failed to include her on the list, effectively barring her from transfer to the county after her appeal was successful.”

After Hendrick won her grievance and was reinstated in December 2004, she reported for work at the county. However, she was told there was no position for her.

At the time Hendrick lost her job with the city, she was earning $17 per hour, and she was unable to find work for more than 18 months. When she did, she was only making $12.65 per hour.

An expert at trial calculated damages over her employable life at $645,450.

“The city had no evidence to counter this testimony, which we find highly credible,” the judge wrote.

City attorneys argued in the non-jury trial that Ms. Hendrick’s complaint was barred because of the length of time that had passed, but Judge Friedman disagreed.

“Every city employee on the list was hired by the county. Only plaintiff was singled out.”

Paula Reed Ward: or 412-263-2620.

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