After many hours of negotiation, a police officer has his job back, along with $240,000 in lost wages. The officer, a 19-year veteran of a police force, says that his professional pride was important in his decision to settle out of court and to accept a significantly lesser amount than his lawyer had initially requested. His whistle-blower lawsuit was a key part of a government scandal that rocked a small town outside of Wisconsin.
The officer had reported a number of allegations to his chief, including building permits that were being illegally sold and vehicles that were being unlawfully seized. He also alleged that voter fraud had occurred in the city. Additionally, this police officer and two others had asked the city’s district attorney to investigate officials for corruption.
After the officer spoke with his chief, the department placed him on administrative leave. He suspected that he would get fired for his accusations, so he retired before this could happen.
The lawyer representing the officer initially demanded $1.6 million to settle the matter. The superior court judge who served as mediator warned the city that if the case went to trial, it was likely that at least $3 million would be awarded to the plaintiff. Although the city resisted settling, ongoing negotiations between the parties eventually led to the officer being awarded a smaller, yet still significant amount of back pay and, most important for him, reinstatement with the force.
In the meantime, a local newspaper reporting on the huge salaries that city officials were being paid led to the arrests of eight city officials on charges of corruption. The chief was not arrested, but he did lose his job. This police officer, who was used to putting his life on the line to protect citizens from crime, in the end saved his job and his city.
Source: San Francisco Chronicle, “Bell officer who revealed corruption gets job back,” Aug. 4, 2012
Our firm handles similar situations to the one discussed in this post. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our Milwaukee whistle-blower claim page.