Former employee of suburban mobile home park seeks $100K in retaliatory discharge claim

By Annie Cosby | Nov 12, 2014

A McHenry County man is suing his former employers, claiming he was wrongfully terminated after the company was sold.

Tom Copano filed a lawsuit Oct. 29 in Cook County Circuit Court against Touhy Mobile Homes Park Inc. and Blackhawk Estates MHC, alleging retaliatory discharge.

According to the complaint, Copano began employment with Touhy Mobile Homes Park in 1997 and, in the following years, was promoted from a maintenance worker to property manager. Copano says he sustained injuries on the job, but the owner of Touhy implored him not to file for workers' compensation benefits and promised the company would take care of him, for all but his last two injuries.

Copano claims he was injured in May 2011 while moving a tire and in September 2012, when the feed line to a well exploded, knocking him onto his back, and he filed workers' compensation claims for both incidents. In mid 2012, the owner of Touhy entered into a contract with Blackhawk to sell the mobile home park, but told employees they would be "taken care of," even going so far as to show him a paragraph from the contract that stated employees would be kept on for at least 90 days from the closing date, the suit states.

When Copano and others reported for work with Blackhawk on Dec. 3, 2012, he says he asked a Blackhawk representative if his pending workers' compensation claims with Touhy would cause problems with new ownership, and he was told they wouldn't. Shortly after, he was told he couldn't work without a doctor's letter and even though he provided such a letter, was terminated a few hours later.

He accuses Touhy and Blackhawk of retaliatory discharge. Copano further alleges that he was a third party beneficiary of the contract between Touhy and Blackhawk and that it was breached because he was not retained for at least 90 days as stated in the contract.

As such, Copano is asking for an award of 90 days of wages, or approximately $24,900 plus benefits. His suit is seeking more than $100,000 in damages, including back pay, benefits and punitive damages, plus costs of suit.

He is represented by Palatine attorneys Dennis R. Favaro and Patrick J. Gorman of Favaro & Gorman.

Cook County Circuit Court case number: 2014L011192.

This is a report on a civil lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court. The details in this report come from an original complaint filed by a plaintiff. Please note, a complaint represents an accusation by a private individual, not the government. It is not an indication of guilt and it represents only one side of the story.

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