Cd'A request for new trial denied - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Cd'A request for new trial denied

Judge: Jury was correct in its wrongful termination decision

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Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2012 12:15 am | Updated: 11:34 am, Fri Nov 16, 2012.

COEUR d'ALENE - A federal judge denied the city of Coeur d'Alene's request for a new trial for a wrongful termination suit involving a former police officer.

United States Magistrate Judge Larry M. Boyle ruled Wednesday the court did not err when it decided former Police Lt. Daniel Dixon had been wrongfully terminated by the city in 2009. The order shot down several of the city's claims - including jury misconduct and the failure of the court to allow the use of polygraph results as evidence - but did reduce Dixon's awarded amount by nearly $500,000 to $3.2 million.

"On every single issue the judge supported the jury's argument, and found that the city's stance was frivolous," said Larry Beck, Dixon's attorney, who called Boyle's order "a fantastic decision. Judge Boyle stated in his learned decision that there is substantial evidence in the record to support the jury's finding that Dixon's termination was 'arbitrary.'"

A federal jury awarded Dixon and his wife $3.7 million back in October.

City Attorney Mike Gridley said the city was pleased that the awarded amount was reduced, but the city would appeal the decision to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

"We're pleased that the judgment was reduced," Gridley said. But "we think there were errors made."

Boyle's order was in response to a motion for a new trial the city filed after the jury verdict.

It upheld that jury's verdict that said negligent training inside the department and indifference to Dixon's Constitutional rights led to the firing. It also said the court was correct when it didn't allow the city to introduce Dixon's failed polygraph results as evidence because "the prejudicial effect of the polygraph evidence substantially outweighs their probative value."

Gridley said the polygraph results were from an internal investigation on Dixon, and should be allowed because the city considered their results before terminating Dixon's employment, which proves it wasn't an "arbitrary" decision.

Dixon, a 17-year veteran of the force before his 2009 departure, had been accused inside the department of engaging in conduct unbecoming an officer, such as cheating on his time card in order to receive pay for hours he didn't work and falsifying another officer's time card as a means to harass.

Dixon was demoted to patrol, per city personnel rules. When he did not show up for work following the demotion, he was fired.

Beck argued the investigation had never been warranted.

Gridley said the city would appeal to the United States Supreme Court if the appeal is denied.

Beck called an appeal a waste of money, especially in light of the judge's ruling that confirmed the jury's decision.

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  • Avy posted at 7:22 am on Tue, Oct 16, 2012.

    Avy Posts: 17

    I'm impressed, I must say. Very rarely do I come across a blog thats both informative and entertaining, and let me tell you, youve hit the nail on the head. Your blog is important; the issue is something that not enough people are talking intelligently about. Im really happy that I stumbled across this in my search for something relating to this issue.

    Office Cubicles

  • CClavin posted at 11:54 am on Fri, Jul 20, 2012.

    CClavin Posts: 221

    Great the tax payers are going to eat the cost on this. Quit spending our money & pay what you owe. It looks like Gridley is the one you made the errors.

  • the floorist posted at 7:12 pm on Thu, Jul 19, 2012.

    the floorist Posts: 331

    $3.2 mil, eh? It's fixin' ta' get worse...

  • Jeffrey Wherley posted at 2:42 pm on Thu, Jul 19, 2012.

    Jeffrey Wherley Posts: 3969

    No they are covered by a different contract that also outlines the special procedures needed to terminate their contracts. Some of those contracts will just reference they Assoc. procedural Due Process sections, others will outline it within each contract. But it is rare for any to be At Will Contracts, because then the Public Servants protections offered by the state and under Right to work would apply and No contract would be needed.
    Want to try telling another fairy tale?

  • messos posted at 12:51 pm on Thu, Jul 19, 2012.

    messos Posts: 29

    Jeffery.....Dixon was a LT with the police department. LT's, CAPT's and the Chief are not members of their police association and are not covered by their contract. Please do your research.

  • Jeffrey Wherley posted at 9:23 am on Thu, Jul 19, 2012.

    Jeffrey Wherley Posts: 3969

    Your type of comment does seem to always come from those that want to do the least and get paid the same as the ones that do the most. Everyone already have " rights from unjust terminations" with right to work state laws. What you want is what public employees Bargain for. A redefinition of what is Just and unjust. If you don't preform to the Quality or Quantity of work your employer wants, deserves and pays you for, it is Just to Fire your Ask, Nothing else should matter.

  • mister d posted at 8:35 am on Thu, Jul 19, 2012.

    mister d Posts: 1531

    This is another good example why all Idaho employees, public and private, need due process rights. Get rid of 'at will' employment status so that employers can't just fire a dedicated employee on a whim, Let there be a process that gives all employees rights from unjust terminations, not just filing for unemployment. Those leading this city need to be held more accountable for the costly decisions they are making.

  • Jeffrey Wherley posted at 8:07 am on Thu, Jul 19, 2012.

    Jeffrey Wherley Posts: 3969

    That makes no sense. If you fire the immediately then you will just be handing them a 32 million dollar severance package, unless you get rid of the Public Employee Procedural Due Process package first. Can't have it both ways.

  • ancientemplar posted at 7:24 am on Thu, Jul 19, 2012.

    ancientemplar Posts: 1147

    I just wonder how much this appeal, the 9th circus appeal and the SCOTUS appeal will end up costing the city. I'll bet Mike "$125,000/yr" Gridley, city attorney won't tell the public. But I guess he'll justify it through the $500,000 reduction in the current award amount.

  • cococo posted at 7:12 am on Thu, Jul 19, 2012.

    cococo Posts: 144

    Great judicial system we have. Attorneys continue to file appeals in an effort to justify their own existence. Stop throwing good money after what you owe and move on.

  • concernedcitizen posted at 6:29 am on Thu, Jul 19, 2012.

    concernedcitizen Posts: 2530

    Right on for Dixon!

    I agree with voxpop.

  • Jeffrey Wherley posted at 5:56 am on Thu, Jul 19, 2012.

    Jeffrey Wherley Posts: 3969

    The polygraph is the bone the Collective bargainers for the public employee contracts throw them to give special "due process" rights, even though both sides of the table know a polygraph is useless.

    'See Public, We have to submit to Polygraph in our due process, we are more deserving of special protections!!!!!' Like Paid administrative leave, no public dissemination of information even when it's a criminal case that is normally public record, or paid lawyer mediation to name a few of the more egregious.

  • Jeffrey Wherley posted at 5:48 am on Thu, Jul 19, 2012.

    Jeffrey Wherley Posts: 3969

    3.2 million more reasons to end the Procedural Due Process Bargaining in Public employee contracts, and give them the same Due Process Rights as private employer workers. Make all Public employee At will workers just like everyone else in Idaho is and this case wouldn't have been "frivolous" or so expensive.

  • voxpop posted at 4:20 am on Thu, Jul 19, 2012.

    voxpop Posts: 738

    Since when is a polygraph EVER allowed as evidence? Yet Cda tried to include it. Are city attorneys competent? Or, perhaps, just dealt a hand by local govt/management which could never be won. Now the city taxpayers will likely have to eat a huge judgment and those same fools that created this mess will go on their merry way. When those in city management and govt make such egregious errors they should be fired - immediately.

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