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Jury awards Kansas City-area woman $11 million in lawsuit against MoDCC

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Posted at 11:14 AM, Jul 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-28 16:30:32-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Jackson County Jury last week awarded a Kansas City area woman more than $11 million in a lawsuit against the Missouri Department of Corrections.

In 2018, Leesa Wiseman, who worked at the MoDCC’s Kansas City Reentry Center in the West Bottoms, filed a lawsuit against the state agency alleging discrimination abased on race, sex/gender and disability, violation of the Missouri Human Rights Act and retaliation.

In Tuesday’s verdict, the jury found the agency did not discriminate against Wiseman based on her race and sex/gender, but ruled in favor of Wiseman on her claims of a hostile work environment and retaliation.

READ: Jury’s judgment

Wiseman’s attorney, Eric Playter, told KSHB 41 News on Thursday the outcome was mostly what they had expected.

"We always believed this case was a retaliation case," Playter said in a phone interview.

A spokesperson from the Missouri Department of Corrections told KSHB 41 News that the agency doesn’t comment on litigation.

According to the initial court filing in 2018, Wiseman, who had been deputy warden at the Kansas City facility, alleged she was treated unfairly by Lily Angelo, the facility’s warden, during the 2010s. That unfair treatment included the demotion of Wiseman as well as work assignments that were allegedly hostile and retaliatory.

READ: Original civil filing

In the judgement, the jury awarded Wiseman $750,000 for compensatory damages, $176,053.60 in back pay, $100,000 for past economic losses, $550,300 for future economic losses, $250,000 in non-economic loses and $9.25 million in punitive damages.

Speaking of the $9.25 million verdict, Playter said "it speaks to the reprehensible nature of the conduct."

"You just can't hide bad behavior from 12 people," he said.