A former Oakton High School student is seeking a new trial in her lawsuit against the Fairfax County School Board involving a sexual assault that occurred on a school band trip in 2017.
Attorneys representing the plaintiff, known as Jane Doe, and the school board delivered oral arguments to the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit remotely on Monday (Jan. 25).
According to Public Justice, the nonprofit representing the plaintiff and her family, Jane Doe — then a junior — and another bandmate — then a senior — were sitting next to each other on a bus when he touched her without her consent.
Filed in 2018, the nonprofit’s original complaint alleged that administrators and employees failed to take meaningful and appropriate action. According to the complaint, administrators threatened to discipline her and discouraged her from reporting the assault to police or taking legal action.
In August 2019, a jury with the U.S. District Court in Alexandria found that Jane Doe was sexually harassed and that the experience negatively impacted her education. But the jury did not find the Fairfax County School Board could be held liable for the deprivation of her education as a result of her assault.
The jury determined that the school board did not have “actual knowledge” about the assault, though one juror later said there was confusion over the term’s definition. As a result, the jury did not discuss the final question in the case, which asked whether the school board acted with deliberate indifference toward Doe’s complaint.
FCPS’s liability, which appears to hinge on the extent to which school officials knew an assault had taken place and whether they took sufficient action to address the plaintiff’s concerns, is now being relitigated.
“There may be hard actual knowledge cases, but this isn’t one of them. This family did all they could to put the school on notice,” Public Justice attorney Alexandra Brodsky said in her argument on Monday. “This court should remand a new trial so a jury can reach, for the first time, the question of whether the school did enough.”
Stuart Raphael, the attorney for the school board, argued that the board did not have “actual knowledge” because Doe — in a conversation with Fairfax County Public Schools Director of Student Services Jennifer Hogan — did not describe her experience as sexual assault or nonconsensual. He added that Doe was “incredulous” when another administrator asked if she would press charges.
He argued that these facts, as well as inconsistencies between the stories that reached administrators, support the jury’s initial finding that the school board had no “actual knowledge” of the sexual assault.
“It cannot be that a school administrator’s failure to understand what constitutes sexual harassment is an absolute bar to liability,” Brodsky said. “That’s why this court and others have treated a failure to categorize reports of sexual harassment as evidence of a deficient response.”
Hot N Juicy Crawfish can stay in the Falls Church spot it’s called home for the last five years.
The dispute erupted when the landlord, FMR Development LLC, claimed that the restaurant (116 W. Broad Street) did not pay its rent for April within a required timeframe.
The landlord returned the restaurant’s checks in April and May, claiming that the restaurant was in violation of its lease, according to correspondence between the attorneys for the landlord and restaurant. In June, the landlord filed an eviction lawsuit, claiming the restaurant owed roughly $24,000 in rent and late fees for April and May.
Hot N Juicy’s attorneys told Washington City Paper, which first reported the eviction threat, that earlier in the pandemic, the landlord tried to force the restaurant to sign a lease amendment that would make it easier to remove the restaurant out. The newspaper also reported that the co-owner said he asked his landlord for a rent abatement or deferment in March.
Jeffrey Romanick, the landlord’s attorney, and Scott Rome, one of the restaurant’s attorneys, told Tysons Reporter this week that they reached an agreement out of court that allows the restaurant to stay in the space.
Two lawsuits against the Town of Vienna have been resolved now that Sunrise Senior Living’s plans are moving forward to occupy a different Maple Avenue location.
Steven Briglia, the town’s attorney, told the Town Council on Monday (March 9) that “soon the ink will be dry on both.”
The first lawsuit involved a Vienna couple suing town officials for approving the rezoning for a mixed-use development at 380 Maple Avenue.
“The parties have agreed it can be dismissed with prejudice,” he said. “It has been removed from the court docket.”
The mixed-use development site is now being considered for a Sunrise Senior Living Facility.
Sunrise then proposed to take over the 380 Maple Avenue spot and its plans have been moving forward with the town.
Briglia said that on Friday (March 6) that the Sunrise has agreed to drop the case.
“They are very happy with locating to 380 [Maple Avenue] and to move forward on that,” he said, adding that the non-suit “will remove the cloud on that property.”
A McLean man linked to a neo-Nazi group pleaded guilty today (Tuesday) to possessing firearms as a drug user and lying to buy a semiautomatic rifle
Andrew Thomasberg, a 21-year-old who is a member of the Atomwaffen Division, is accused of purchasing a semiautomatic rifle for a third party, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.
“He transferred that firearm to that third party after purchasing it,” the press release said. “Thomasberg also possessed at least four firearms while unlawfully using controlled substances, including marijuana, psilocybin mushrooms and opium.”
“In federal court in Alexandria on Friday, FBI Special Agent Shawn Matthews, who testified that his focus is domestic terrorism, said Thomasberg took part in the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017 with a neo-Nazi group called Vanguard America,” The Washington Post reported.
Thomasberg was arrested in September, according to The Washington Post story.
More from the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia:
“Lying to the FBI is a federal crime, and Thomasburg lied to hide an additional crime,” said Timothy R. Slater, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “The FBI works with our partners to take criminals possessing illegal firearms off the streets.”
According to court documents and testimony, Thomasberg has association with white supremacist organizations, such as Vanguard America and Atomwaffen Division.
Thomasberg pleaded guilty to making a material false statement in relation to the purchase of a firearm and to possessing firearms while being an unlawful user of or addicted to controlled substances…
Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Timothy R. Slater, Assistant Director of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady accepted the plea. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony W. Mariano and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald L. Walutes, Jr. are prosecuting the case.
Thomasberg will be sentenced on Feb. 28, 2020 and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Photo via Joe Gratz/Flickr
Parents and disability rights groups are suing Fairfax County Public Schools for allegedly using seclusion and restraint improperly for students with disabilities, the Washington Post reported last night (Tuesday).
“Tidd’s son was secluded on at least 745 occasions and excluded from class several hundred more times over seven years, according to court papers,” the Washington Post reported.
An investigation by WAMU earlier this year discovered hundreds of cases where FCPS students were restrained or put in seclusion multiple times — despite FCPS repeatedly telling the federal government otherwise.
The WAMU investigation highlighted stories from parents who alleged that improper seclusion and restraint happened at Armstrong Elementary in Reston and Eagle View Elementary in Fairfax.
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, according to the Washington Post.
Whole Foods Is Hiring — The new store in Tysons is holding hiring events on Friday and Saturday. [Patch]
Tysons Development Moves Forward — “The 3 million-square-foot View at Tysons, featuring what would be Greater Washington’s tallest office building… just emerged from a long staff review with a recommendation for approval.” [Washington Business Journal]
Chefs Compete In Tysons Challenge — “An epic battle of chefs from six local restaurants competed in ‘Tysons Challenge,’ a Charity Classic event sponsored by The St. James at The Tower Club in Tysons Corner, Va. on Friday, Sept. 20.” [Inside NoVa]
Trail Links Up Tysons to Vienna — “A web of trails snake through the Vienna and Tysons area in northern Virginia, but for decades, they didn’t connect to each other… Now, after 20 years of work, residents are celebrating the final link in that network.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Lawsuit Continues Over Tyson Man’s Death — “The family of Bijan Ghaisar, who was fatally shot by two U.S. Park Police officers in November 2017, has refiled its lawsuit against the federal government after it was dismissed from the case on technical grounds earlier this year.” [Washington Post]
Debates Begin For County Chair Contenders — “Candidates for Fairfax County Board of Supervisors chairman on Sept. 23 offered starkly different visions of the county and its prospects during a forum at the Fairfax County Government Center.” [Inside NoVa]
A Muslim woman is suing a Merrifield-based company, claiming that she was denied employment because of her faith.
Shahin Indorewala said she applied for a job at Fast Trak Inc. (2735 Hartland Road, Suite) last fall. The interview process was going well, she said in announcing the federal suit this week, but things allegedly went south when discussing prayer breaks with the company’s CEO.
The lawsuit alleges that the company denied her request to shorten her 90-minute lunch break to take two short five-minute breaks for prayers as an observant Muslim. The lawsuit also alleges that the company’s CEO mocked her religious headscarf in front of the company’s staff and refused to hire her.
“I was shocked and there were other people around me. There were other employees, there were other interviewees there, and I just felt very humiliated,” Indorewala said yesterday.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) filed the discrimination lawsuit Tuesday (Sept. 24) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Indorewala and her attorneys are seeking a jury trial.
CAIR Attorney Gadeir Abbas told Tysons Reporter that Fast Trak will have about a month to respond to the lawsuit.
“It’s an extremely strong case,” Abbas said, adding that he has seen increasing levels of anti-Muslim sentiments in recent years. “The workplace reflects society.”
Fast Trak CEO Ramses Gavilondo told the Associated Press that he didn’t hire Indorewala because she “wanted to preach her religion” and that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigated and found no wrongdoing. Fast Trak has so far not responded to Tysons Reporter’s requests for comment.
Photo via CAIR/Facebook
A Merrifield-based hospice care service will pay millions to settle allegations that it submitted incorrect claims to Medicare.
Capital Caring has agreed to pay $3.1 million to “settle allegations that it caused the government to overpay the organization as a result of billings it submitted to the Medicare Program for hospice services,” according to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Headquartered at 2900 Telestar Court, Capital Caring provides advanced home care and hospice services in the D.C. area.
More from the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia:
The overpayments were the result of claims Capital Caring submitted to Medicare for hospice services for patients who the government alleged either did not meet the hospice eligibility guidelines for the Medicare Program, Title XVIII of the Social Security Act, or for whom the hospice clinical record information maintained by Capital Caring was insufficient to support Medicare hospice coverage.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia worked with the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General on the civil matter.
Photo by Joe Gratz/Flickr
A Vienna family said they’ve been waiting months to get their money back from unwanted credit card charges by a local music school.
Family members, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to Tysons Reporter, said that Jeffrey Levin, the president of District Music Academy, gave their son music lessons for about four months this spring.
When the family told Levin about billing on their credit card statements, they said he blamed the incorrect amount on an invoice issue involving the billing companies, before offering to write a check to cover the overcharged amount, which the family declined to provide.
The family claims that they never got a check.
The family waited for a few weeks before reaching out to their credit card company to prevent future charges from District Music Academy. As of last week, the family told Tysons Reporter that they are waiting to hear back from their credit card company before considering taking the matter to small claims court.
District Music Academy offers private in-home lessons, after school programs, entertainment for retirement communities in the D.C. area and other services, according to its website.
Two Reston residents had a similar experience with unwanted charges from District Music Academy and took Levin’s company to small claims court earlier this year.
Michele Chesser told Tysons Reporter that she noticed the company was double-billing her credit card for her daughter’s piano lessons, charging her at the beginning and end of the month. In total, according to court documents, District Music Academy overcharged her $1,260.
Chesser said she contacted her credit card company, which was able to credit her two out of the five months of double billing. She decided to try to recover the rest of the money in court.
The judge heard the case in May and ordered Levin to pay the full amount. But as of today (Aug. 26), Chesser said she hasn’t gotten the money back.
“I don’t think I’ll ever see my money again,” she said.
Another Reston resident, Anjia Nicolaidis, told Tysons Reporter that her daughter started ukulele and voice lessons once a month in February 2018 and the family scheduled lessons through August.
For a family with two full-time working parents, she said that District Music Academy seemed like a convenient solution, adding there are “not a lot of companies offering that in-home instruction in the immediate area.”
But by July of that year, Nicolaidis noticed double charges and “random charges.” When she reached out to Levin, “first there was some delay in getting him to acknowledge that our records and the teacher’s record were consistent,” she said.
“We asked for that reimbursement and gave him a number of opportunities to give it to us,” Nicolaidis told Tysons Reporter, adding that Levin at first offered to make up the amount with credits to future lessons. After she declined the offer, the discussion over repayment broke down.
According to court records, Nicolaidis emailed Levin back on Sept. 10, writing:
As of this morning, September 10, 2018 you have not refunded the money you owe us. It has been a week since we received your email indicating you would process the refund. We have been corresponding about this issue for nearly two months…
We feel victimized and are in contact with other families that have had the same experience with District Music Academy.
Levin responded via email the same day, saying, “We have resolved all issues with our credit card system, but the process to refund the money is taking longer than expected. If it is acceptable to you, I can mail you a check today for the money due so that you can receive the fund more quickly.”
Nicolaidis said Levin never sent the check and she hasn’t heard from him since.
The company behind A Taste of Urbanspace in Tysons Galleria is facing a lawsuit for allegedly stealing a retail brokerage firm’s “intellectual capital.”
District Equities filed a lawsuit Monday alleging that Urbanspace Tysons LLC, “entered into an agreement with District Equities to help find retail vendors for the food hall, utilized the brokerage firm’s proprietary market knowledge and business relationships, and then terminated the agreement,” Bisnow reported.
District Equities was started by Great Falls resident Steve Gaudio in 2015.
The two companies worked together from the fall until Urbanspace terminated District Equities’ agreement, activating the noncompete clause that said District Equities cannot work on another food hall for two years, the article said.
District Equities “says the damages would be at least $75,000, a threshold that gives it jurisdiction in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia,” according to the Bisnow article.
Urbanspace Tysons LLC opened A Taste of Urbanspace in December, replacing celebrity chef Mike Isabella’s series of restaurants known as Isabella Eatery.
Recently, A Taste of Urbanspace has seen some changes.