Former exec’s lawsuit against Fuyao ordered to mediation

Fuyao Glass America, government and state officials cut a ribbon in celebration of the company’s grand opening in October 2016.
Fuyao Glass America, government and state officials cut a ribbon in celebration of the company’s grand opening in October 2016.

It appears a mediator is getting involved in David Burrows’ long-running lawsuit against his former employer, Fuyao Glass America.

Recently U.S. Magistrate Judge Sharon Ovington ordered the lawsuit to be referred to fellow Magistrate Judge Michael Newman for mediation.

“The above-captioned action is hereby referred to United States Magistrate Judge Michael J. Newman solely for the purpose of conducting a mediation,” Ovington’s said in an order filed last week. “The appointed mediator shall have full authority to conduct the mediation and shall report to District Judge Thomas M. Rose whether or not the mediation resulted in settlement of this case.”

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Today a vice president with Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley, Burrows once was the second highest ranking executive at Fuyao’s Moraine plant as the Chinese auto glass producer painstakingly transformed the plant into what the company now says is the largest auto glass factory in the world.

Burrows is a former Dayton Development Coalition executive who was part of a local and statewide team that brought Fuyao to Moraine. He went to work for Fuyao shortly after the company began retrofitting a former General Motors plant.

But in November 2016, Fuyao announced “a reorganization of the company’s senior management team,” saying Burrows and former Fuyao President John Gauthier were no longer with the company.

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Burrows sued Fuyao in federal court in the spring of 2017, alleging breach of contract, defamation and other charges tied to his separation from the business. Gauthier has taken no legal action against Fuyao.

Burrows figured prominently in the Netflix documentary "American Factory," which won an Oscar for best documentary feature Sunday night.

At one point in the film, Burrows reacts angrily after Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown publicly endorsed a nascent unionization effort at the Moraine plant.

“Who the (expletive deleted) does he think he is,” Burrows says on camera in “American Factory,” with a camera operator following him.

“I’m going to take these big scissors and cut off Sen. Brown’s head,” Burrows also said, adding: “He (Brown) didn’t tell us he was going to do that. He did that on purpose, so they’re cut off. They’ll never be allowed in the plant again.”

Messages were left with two of Burrows’ attorneys Wednesday. A message was also left for an attorney representing Fuyao.

In November, Fuyao agreed to pay $1.3 million to a group of current and former workers — and their attorneys — who sued the company in a separate lawsuit over the manufacturer’s scheduling and work conditions.

A federal magistrate in that case denied the Fuyao’s request to keep settlement terms sealed.