Part 3: Don’t Expect the Japanese Courts to Care

Recap of Part 2:

[Update: Linda Wayne and Gregory Strong’s initial court letters were added to the last post]

  • Ms. Tran realized that court was the only way to find out who was really behind the email, which attacked her teaching reputation and her career.  So, she took St. Mary’s back to court for Breach of Settlement because the email’s author had specified that he knew of the settlement details from a school admin.  The school had signed a confidentiality clause.  Professor of English at Aoyama Gakuin University, Gregory Strong was this email author–a man Ms. Tran had never met, but to whom she did apply for a job.

  • In court, St. Mary’s Curriculum Coordinator, Linda Wayne, testified that she had spoken of the case and of the settlement to Mr. Strong.  But the school used the defense that she was uninformed and did not really know what she was talking about, thus, the information that was passed on to Gregory Strong was, essentially, gossip and was not a technical account of the settlement details.  Gregory Strong, who was not being sued, but was obviously responsible for exposing St. Mary’s to this court case testified  to help the school that the information was indeed just gossip.  Furthermore, he took some responsibility for fabricating the information in the email based on his own observations.

  • The District Court ruled that since the school lied about the settlement, they hadn’t breached it.

Next:

Ms. Tran was a little more than creeped out by Gregory Strong, a stranger, who seemed to have such personal involvement in sabotaging her career.   As well, it was disappointing that the courts did not uphold their own confidentiality clause.  How inconvenient for a individual!

Ms. Tran appealed to the High Court asking: isn’t the fact of discussing the settlement, especially if it involves lies causing harm to a party, part of the rationale behind a “confidentiality clause”?  Back when the case ended in 2010, the confidentiality clause evidently had an exception: for Ms. Tran to write a final statement to the school community about the case, for closure.  As a member of the school community who opted to be on this list, I got this email:

Court Announcement May 2010:

“[英文]

I would like to inform you that the dispute with St. Mary’s International School ended at Tokyo District Court on April 15, 2010.

 St. Mary’s International School regrets the dispute.

 The school and I confirmed that I worked as a teacher at the school, and my employment contract was completed.  We agreed to accept the court mediated settlement that includes a mutually agreed upon amount.

 Throughout this process, many students, parents and teachers of St. Mary’s have been a tremendous source of support to me morally and through letters and petitions.  It was my pleasure to see this process through and find a way for us to be heard clearly in the school community.

 私と聖マリア学園との間の労使紛争が、東京地方裁判所において、2010年4月15日に、聖マリア学 園において労使紛争が起こったことについて遺憾の意を表明し、私が聖マリア学園との間の雇用契約に基づき教師として勤め、同契約の雇用期間が満了したこと を確認した上、私が納得した解決金の支払等を内容とする和解が成立して解決したことをお知らせします。

 これまで私の精神的支えになり、手紙や署名により支援していただいた聖マリア学園の生徒、保護者の皆様、ま た、同僚の教師の皆様のおかげで解決に至りましたことを心より感謝申し上げます。この労使紛争が円満に解決したこと、この解決を皆様に 報告できたことを喜ばしく思っています。

 宜しくおねがいします

So, had “gossiping” with members of the teaching industry about the settlement been allowable too, for the school?  Ms. Tran did not remember signing off on that.  According to the court papers, apparently, the confidentiality clause read like most ones do–that neither party was to discuss the settlement details to a 3rd party.  That’s pretty clear!  However, despite the appeal, the High Court did not really improve on or add further comments to the District Court’s ruling.  The papers went through the appeal process like oats through a horse.  Lying about a settlement is not breaching the settlement.

The Supreme Court?  Yawn.  It might have potentially been an Elle Woods’ moment,

but Ms. Tran probably should have realized that she needed to get in line to seek any social justice in Japan from that institution.  The Supreme Court wrote that they had nothing to add, to the nothing that the High Court had added.

Oh Ms. Tran, get in line:

Supreme Court Upholds Non-Disclosure of Companies Whose Employees Died of Overwork

Comfort Women Still Fight For Justice

Courts block evacuation of Fukushima kids, even after admitting hazards

Oh, and not to mention the “terrorism” that freedom of speech has now become here in Japan under Shiny Ape.

So, what we learned from all this is that technical adherence to court orders / laws / rules is what matters to courts.  Therefore, if you find yourselves settling in court–you might want to add “infinity” after each clause, in case the childish party you’re dealing with abuses it once you’re back in the school yard.

Next: This case was either a Breach of Settlement or a Defamation case.  So, since it wasn’t a breach, lying about someone must be defamation (?)  But who is responsible for the defamation?

As well, we wonder, did Linda Wayne speak on behalf of the school corporation when she falsely characterized the settlement and the record of a teacher?  If not, had the school done anything to reprimand her and this behaviour?

If this is done to a teacher, would it be done to students or families who take up an issue at the school?  i.e. Is St. Mary’s International School a bully institution?

Is Japan an institution that makes it hard for individuals to protest being bullied…by institutions?

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4 Comments

Filed under Education, Legal

4 responses to “Part 3: Don’t Expect the Japanese Courts to Care

  1. Rob

    Does this mean that it’s over? I was hoping that Ms. Tran was going to take the next step and sue for defamation of character.

    • stmaryslabordispute

      It looks like she will. I’ve heard that at the beginning of January, there will be a hearing in the Yokohama District Court. We’ll write more on it with more details when we can confirm it.

      • concerned alumnus

        I am glad that she did. She should also sue Lynda Wayne. By the way, is she leaving Japan to run away from a lawsuit? If she is, I guess they can always have her extradited back to Japan to answer for the charges.

  2. Pingback: Lawsuit Against Gregory Strong, Professor of English at Aoyama Gakuin University | St. Mary's International School Labor Dispute

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