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Lawsuit seeks $14.5 million for former WROTB officer

By Mike Pettinella

The lawyer representing Michael Nolan, the former chief operating officer at Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., is suing for $14.5 million following his client’s termination last December.

The 23-page document filed Aug. 12 in U.S. District Court Western District of New York by attorney Steven M. Cohen of HoganWillig, PLLC, names Richard Bianchi, chairman of the WROTB board of directors, and Henry Wojtaszek, WROTB president and chief executive officer, as defendants.

The suit is asking for Nolan to receive $4.5 million for violating his First Amendment rights, another $4.5 million for breaking the state’s Civil Service Law and an additional $5.5 million for emotional pain and suffering.

Nolan, who lived in Elma at the time of his employment, now resides in West Palm Beach, Fla. The lawsuit is requesting that the matter be settled by a trial by jury.

As reported on The Batavian last December, following Nolan’s firing from a job that paid more than $100,000 per year, Cohen said that his client had been ostracized and shut out of OTB developments since April of 2019 for sharing information with federal and state authorities as part of an inquiry into practices such as health insurance plans for board members, use of sports tickets and luxury boxes, and awarding of contracts.

Also, at that time, Daniel Oliverio of Hodgson Russ, the attorney representing WROTB, disputed the allegations, stating that evidence gained through months of examination and interviewing of more than 30 witnesses did not substantiate Nolan’s claims, and that his termination was carefully considered and appropriate as it pertains to job performance.

The Batavian placed calls to both lawyers today seeking comment on the recent filing of the suit, which follows up Cohen’s previous civil action that sought “at least $5 million in damages” for Nolan.

The updated suit calls for $14.5 million in compensatory damages plus Nolan’s reinstatement to his former COO position, reinstatement of full fringe benefits and seniority rights, damages sustained due to the violation including, without limitation, the compensation for lost wages, benefits and other remuneration, and payment of all reasonable costs, disbursements, and attorney's fees.

Previously: WROTB fires chief operating officer who files Notice of Claim seeking $5 million in damages

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