By Sam Allard
Posted November 22nd 2018
(PHOTO: CLEVELAND COUNCILMAN KENNETH JOHNSON WARD-4)
BUCKEYE SHAKER SQUARE DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR JOHN HOPKINS
Sunday, attorney Scott Perlmuter with the Tittle & Perlmuter law firm filed a class-action suit seeking unpaid wages for hourly employees who worked at the Buckeye Shaker Square Development Corporation this summer.
The suit alleges that as many as 50 employees worked hours, primarily doing grass cutting and other manual labor, for which they received no compensation beginning in July, 2018.
Further, the suit alleges that CDC’s Executive Director John Hopkins, along with Councilman Ken Johnson and Johnson’s assistant Garnell Jamison, officially “employers,” transferred BSSDC’s assets to themselves and their associates — “insiders” — in violation of the Ohio Fraudulent Transfer Act. These transfers, including exorbitant salaries that the suit claims are not commensurate with services performed, were made “with ill will toward the hourly employees, or with conscious disregard for their rights that had a great probability of causing substantial harm.”
The lead plaintiff in the case is Brian Coffey, who worked as an hourly employee for BSSDC for several years and through August, 2018.
The suit comes on the heels of extensive reporting about Ward 4 Councilman Ken Johnson’s presumed misconduct in office. Mark Naymik at Cleveland.com reported late last month that residents were being unpaid for their labor at the CDC, whose federal funding had been cut off after a failure to produce recent audits.
The mother of a 16-year-old said that Garnell Jamison, (who works for both Johnson and BSSDC), told her son to keep working despite the lack of funds. Another man said that he was still owed roughly $1,000 for work performed.
This information appeared in a story about Johnson’s monthly council reimbursements. He had been receiving $1,200 per month, the maximum allowable amount, continuously for 11 years. He had allegedly been paying a moonlighting city employee for “ward services” that included checking to make sure grass-cutting work was being performed.
Any employee who worked for BSSDC this summer who is “similiary situated” — i.e., who has not been paid for work performed — may opt-in to the class-action suit. It’s being pursued as a class-action suit because many of the claims are small enough that potential plaintiffs would be “reluctant to incur the substantial cost, expense, and risk of pursuing their claims individually.”