by Christopher Zoukis
A federal jury found that a Dallas police officer had been unlawfully retaliated against in two instances after he reported violations of the law, awarding him a total of $340,000.
In November 2005, Robert Crider, a Dallas police officer who had been assigned to work at Love Field airport for 10 years, was involuntarily reassigned to the night shift at the Dallas County Jail. Certain assignments, including the county jail, were typically considered a punishment within the department.
Crider sued the city of Dallas, claiming that his transfer was in retaliation for having reported lax security and overtime abuse at the airport. In June 2006, four months after he filed his lawsuit, he was fired. The chief of police claimed that an investigation revealed that Crider failed to report that other officers had threatened a reporter who was critical of Love Field's security operations. Crider amended his lawsuit to claim his termination as a second act of retaliation for exposing public safety issues at the airport.
The city denied the retaliation claims, saying instead that Crider was difficult to manage and the decision to move him had nothing to do with punishment. There was testimony during the seven-day trial that jail assignments were often considered punishment.
Attorney Don A. Tittle represented Crider, who sought reimbursement for lost wages and unspecified damages for past and future anguish.
After eight hours of deliberation, the jury found that Crider was a victim of retaliation for both the transfer and the termination, awarding him $90,000 in past wage loss and $250,000 for past and future mental anguish. The parties agreed to an additional $195,000 for costs and legal fees, bringing the total to $535,000.
See: Crider v. City of Dallas, Dallas County District Court, Case No. DC 0703885 (Aug. 7, 2008)
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