On July 20, 2018 a federal court jury in Aberdeen rendered a $20,000 plaintiff verdict in Garrett v. City of Tupelo.

Brandon Garrett was a detective with the Tupelo Police Department. The department wrote him up for mishandling evidence 7 days after his attorney (Jim Waide) wrote a letter requesting that the department relocate the detective division from a mold contaminated building. The Department then demoted Garrett to patrol officer. Garrett quit and sued for retaliation.

The City won on the demotion issue, convincing the jury that it wasn’t a demotion because Garrett was a “top officer” who was needed on the streets. The City lost on the write-up. In addition to the $20,000 verdict, Garrett can file a motion for attorney fees.

Jim Waide of Tupelo represented Garrett. David O’Donnell and Ray Hill with Clayton O’Donnell in Oxford represented the City.

District Judge Debra Brown presided.

My Take:

Smells like a compromise verdict. Impressive job by the defense lawyers convincing the jury the demotion to patrol was not a demotion.

My expertise is based on extensive reading of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch novels, so you know it’s solid. Can’t wait for Connelly’s Bosch / Renee Ballard book this fall. Now if we could just get Mickey Haller involved.

 

 

  • Nick Norris

    That case may end up being very important. The 5th Circuit has found that written reprimands are not enough to be considered materially adverse for a retaliation claim. Judge Brown created an exception by citing to a 2nd Circuit case where a reprimand could later have the potential to prevent the plaintiff from receiving a promotion, and the plaintiff had made that argument. Of course every reprimand has the potential to prevent future promotion possibilities. It will be interesting to see what the 5th Circuit adopts the 2nd Circuit’s approach, or if the Supreme Court will take the split in the circuits up on the issue.