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Discrimination lawsuit against apartment complex owners moves forward

Federal judge rules the case can start over
Posted at 5:41 PM, Jun 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-05 21:13:45-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Hostile comments about race, religion, sex and disability are all part of the claims a former employee has filed against a company involved with multiple metro apartment complexes.

Federal Judge Stephen R. Bough ruled Wednesday that Tanya Teegarden's case against Gold Crown Management LLC can move forward.

"I think it's a blessing from above," Teegarden said. "I think it's a blessing that my lawyer is so competent."

For the past year, Teegarden had been representing herself.

After a 41 Action News Investigators story last month exposing her claims that Gold Crown owners Vijay and Nevin Dewar routinely verbally abused her and then fired her when they didn't deliver on promised money, attorney Michael Williams took her case.

Teegarden's previous potential witness list included other former employees as well as a former city inspector for Overland Park.

"I'm very appreciative for the judge for giving us an opportunity to try to bring forward the claims of the employees that have worked there," Williams said. "We believe they're meritorious claims and I want to get in and at least try to help them to present their best story to the court and see how the jury rules."

"He believed in me. He believed in this case and he believes in justice. And I think justice will prevail," Teegarden said.

Williams says the Dewars can't be sued as individuals as a matter of law.

The judge dropped them as co-defendants earlier in the case.

However, Williams could ask questions or depose Vijay and Nevin Dewar for the court record.

"I think we're going to look at it and depose all people who have relevant information," Williams said.

Gold Crown's attorney Steve Mirakian argued in court it was unfair to his clients for Teegarden to get a do-over after missing multiple filing deadlines.

Bough disagreed, but he did rule Teegarden will have to pay for the added expense of paying the court reporter to retake Teegarden's statement or deposition.

"The judge is the judge; he gets to make the rulings," Mirakian said. "I think he considered it very fairly."

The 41 Action News Investigators caught up with Mirakian on the sidewalk just southwest of the courthouse after the hearing.

Mirakian's interview is the first time anyone representing Gold Crown has gone on camera after the 41 Action News Investigators have done multiple reports dating back to last November detailing several tenants complaints of issues including mold, water leaks, cockroach infestation and HVAC issues.

The 41 Action News Investigators have also spoken to multiple former employees and contractors who've claimed the Dewars and their companies have engaged in unethical and even illegal business practices.

The 41 Action News Investigators asked Mirakian about those claims on camera.

"You've ignored the truth and you continue to do. Now I'd appreciate it if you not ask me any further questions because you're really annoying me and you're invading my space, so go away," Mirakian said.

In addition to the lawsuit moving forward, Williams said in court he's moving forward on a possible class action lawsuit involving employees and contractors for the Dewars' businesses.

In particular, Williams says he's interviewing people about whether they were paid properly including whether or not overtime may have been denied and whether or not workers were improperly classified as independent contractors when they should've been employees.

In addition to the potential class action employment lawsuit involving money claims, another attorney is working on another possible class action case representing the Dewars' tenants.

Further scheduling in the Teegarden lawsuit is pending.

Bough says the likely court date will be in 2020.