Delaware Democrat senate nominee Christopher Coons is 2-1 in lawsuits accusing him of taking political vengeance regarding county employees shortly after assuming the role of executive director of New Castle County in 2005.
Coons was named in lawsuits filed by Trinidad Navarro and Joseph Freeberry in 2005 and by Dennis E. Parkstone 3rd in 2007. All were supporters of Sherry Freeberry who Coons defeated in a contentious Democrat primary election in 2004.
Freeberry, Sherry’s brother, accused Coons of violating his civil rights after firing him as the general manager of the county’s Department of Special Services. Freeberry was appointed to the post in 1997 after serving 13 years as the county’s superintendent of parks. State law was changed in 1997 to provide the general manager slot with merit system protection. Coons began lobbying to change the law in 2003 and got Dover to do so in 2005 making the post one filled at the pleasure of the executive director.
At which point he gave Freeberry the option to retire, resign or be fired. Freeberry chose firing and sued. The federal courts ruled in favor of Coons.
Navarro was a corporal with the New Castle County Police Department. He accused Coons and others of failing to promote him to sergeant because he supported Ms. Freeberry.
In 2007, the county settled with Navarro agreeing to pay him $100,000 plus $40,000 for legal fees and provide him with a $60,000 annuity fund to give him a sergeant’s retirement benefits.
Parkstone was a crew chief with the Deparement of Special Services and president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Local 459. He also supported Ms. Freeberry. He sued after he was fired for allowing his computer at the union office to be used to view pornography and to send lewd emails. While an investigation revealed the computer had been used to access porn websites on days when Parkstone was not there, it was determined that Parkstone had failed to properly secure his machine which is also a violation.
Parkstone’s initial discipline was a suspension providing he waive his right to file a grievance, which he waived. However, Parkstone became incensed upon learning that another employee who had been a Coons supporter and was the source of the obscene emails was not going to be punished.
So Parkstone filed a grievance and was fired.
The Coons supporter did receive a five-day suspension after the grievance was filed.
The United States District Court for Delaware granted summary judgment to Coons in April 2009.
Coons Political Vengeance 2-1 Record