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Don't turn a win into a loss

During litigation on any matter, you may win the case, and have the judge approve your argument or you may settle a case with your opponents. The terms of the court order or the settlement are important. They may create obligations on both parties to the litigation and may require you to take specific steps or actions.

If you fail to adhere to those obligations can lead to your agreement becoming set aside and made no longer enforceable. Such was the case with a woman who worked for the U.S. Army. She was subjected to a removal action and appealed her removal to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).

The Board cancelled her removal, ordered her reinstatement and ordered back pay. While this seemingly was the optimal outcome for the employee, problems developed. She did not want to return to her prior job. However, the terms of the cancellation required that return.

She also objected to the Army's demand for information on any income she earned during the period of her removal. She claimed it was only part time and "had nothing to do with the [Army]."

However, the MSPB decision had required her to "cooperate" with the Army and as damaging to her case, the federal government is required by regulation to account for other income earned outside the government when back pay is ordered.

She later claimed that she had provided the Army with other pay information, but this was not supported by any evidence according the decision by the Federal Circuit, upholding MSPB's order refusing to enforce its earlier order.

No matter what the outcome, it is important to adhere to the terms of any court order or settlement. Even if some element of an order is objectionable, you and your attorney need to file an appropriate appeal, otherwise you can find yourself in this situation, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Fedsmith.com, "Winning Has Consequences," Susan McGuire Smith, March 18, 2015

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