Lawyers for the Philadelphia Housing Authority accused former executive director Carl R. Greene on Monday of being "evasive and nonresponsive" during a seven-hour deposition last month in a lawsuit he filed following his firing over sexual harassment complaints.
The lawyers filed the motion to compel more testimony, saying they wanted to question Greene for an additional four hours.
Greene is suing the authority and its former board in federal court on the ground that they violated his civil rights by not giving him a chance to defend himself before his ouster on Sept. 23, 2010. The board, led at the time by former Mayor John F. Street, acted after learning that Greene had settled sexual harassment complaints against him without first seeking its approval.
Named in the lawsuit are Street and former directors Debra Brady, wife of U.S. Rep. Bob Brady; Pat Eiding, president of the Philadelphia Council of the AFL-CIO; and tenant leader Nellie Reynolds.
In the motion, PHA lawyers said Greene "summarily refused to answer certain relevant questions posed to him during his deposition on April 7," such as his conversations with Mark Foley, a lawyer PHA hired to handle the complaints.
Clifford Haines, Greene's attorney, said his client "was appropriate, respectful, and acted in accordance with his legal obligations, as he always has. His answers were truthful and forthright."
At the center of the dispute are questions about why the PHA board was kept in the dark about settlements of sexual harassment complaints against Greene. In total, four women were paid more than $1 million.
During the April deposition, PHA lawyers said Haines stopped inquiries about Greene's communications with Foley, who was involved in the settlement of three cases and two others that were not settled. Haines claimed those conversations with Foley were protected by attorney-client privilege.
But Lorena Ahumada, an attorney for PHA, said Foley represented the authority and not Greene as an individual, and PHA has waived its attorney-client privilege with him.
In a five-page letter to Street on Sept. 10, 2010, included as an exhibit, Foley outlined what he knew and when.
He said in a 2004 complaint, he recommended that the agency settle the case. The settlement amount — $98,000 — fell just below the $100,000 threshold that required board approval. Foley wrote to Street that he did not know if there was any discussion of this threshold during negotiations. The board was never notified of the settlement.
In another complaint that year, Foley said he was authorized by PHA to offer up to $200,000 to resolve the case. He wrote Street that he "understood" that agency managers would be responsible for arranging authorization and had "the impression that Mr. Greene himself would be discussing it with the PHA board." But like the previous settlement, this agreement was not presented to the board.
A sexual harassment complaint in 2008 would be the last one Foley handled.
Foley told Street he grew concerned about whether anyone inside PHA could make decisions about how to handle the complaint after he learned that Greene was romantically involved with the supervisor of the woman who filed it.
Foley said he directly spoke to Greene about the matter. He said he also "became concerned that the PHA board had not been fully informed" about the previous settlement.
The PHA board was set to meet on May 27, 2008, a day before mediation talks. But at 1:30 p.m., Greene's assistant, Shelly James, told him he was off the case.
Foley told Street had no further involvement with the case and "no independent knowledge of how the matter was resolved or what if anything was shared with the PHA board."