Last week, the North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled that a former Duke employee can go forward with his lawsuit against the University.
According to the Court, Brian Wilkerson—who worked as a parking attendant at Duke Medicine—is allowed to pursue his lawsuit againstDuke and the Duke University Police Department. The decision is a reversal of Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson’s 2012 dismissal of Wilkerson’s original litigation.
The lawsuit stems from a July 2008 incident in which Christopher Day, a former University police officer, confronted Wilkerson outside a University hospital parking lot. Wilkerson had been instructed to let only University Police officers into the lot in cases of emergency. Wilkerson refused to open the gate, which resulted in a physical altercation between him and Day.
“He pointed at my face and asked me for my information, and then that’s when I asked him nicely to not point at my face,” Wilkerson said in a deposition. “That’s when he pulled me and tried to grab me.”
Day then issued a notice of trespassing to Wilkerson, which prohibited from going onto Duke’s campus and ultimately lost him his job.
In the suit, Wilkerson pressed charges of false imprisonment, assault, battery and negligent supervision and retention against Day and the University. He is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.
Upon appeal, Wilkerson abandoned his original claims of public stigmatization and negligence.
DUPD Chief John Dailey declined to comment, redirecting comments to Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public relations and government affairs.
Schoenfeld also declined to comment on the case, citing the University’s policy to refrain from commentary on pending litigation.
Robert Ekstrand, the plaintiff’s lawyer, could not be reached for comment.
Day’s testimony from the deposition, however, does not match Wilkerson’s.
“I put my hand on [Wilkerson’s] chest and... stopped him from going around me and told him, again, that I needed his ID,” he said in the deposition. “He kept trying to go around me, and he told me to get my hands off of him.”
According to the lawsuit, job performance evaluations of Day reveal a history of angry behavior. Wilkerson is using these evaluations as evidence that the University was aware of Day’s behavior.
One evaluation stated that Day came off as a “disgruntled employee who complains a lot.”
A more recent consideration in the lawsuit, however, described Day as “professional and courteous during interactions with the public.”