OpenCDA

July 18, 2012

Dixon v. City of Coeur d’Alene Decision and Order

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 4:51 pm

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United States Magistrate Judge Larry M. Boyle has issued his Memorandum Decision and Order in Dixon v. City of Coeur d’Alene.  The Judge’s decision reduced the total amount the City must pay from $3,763,541 to $3,238,899. 

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According to the press release from Dixon’s attorney Larry Beck:

The Dixon’s are extremely pleased and relieved that one of the most highly respected federal judges has upheld approximately 90% of the jury award issued by a North Idaho jury in this case. This is the largest employment law verdict in Idaho and one of the largest jury verdicts ever issued in North Idaho.

The Dixons feel that it would be futile for the City to try to overturn this very well reasoned decision from Judge Boyle. Any further appeal
by the City would simply be a waste of hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars in the form of additional attorney’s fees, costs and interest.

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”.”

“Evidence of Dixon’s alleged constructive discharge was sufficient to support the jury’s verdict that Dixon was constructively discharged.”

“Moreover, substantial evidence was presented to the jury to support its verdict that the City was deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff’s constitutional rights to due process…”

 

 

6 Comments

  1. This came out of a jury trial. Appeals courts are rightly reluctant to overturn a jury that heard the evidence admitted at trial, followed the Court’s instructions, and came to a reasonable decision. The City’s only hope is that the 9th Circ. Court of Appeals might find some reversible error in the Court’s interpretation and application of law.

    Dixon was wise to get this into federal court and out of the hands of judges in the First Judicial District of Idaho.

    Comment by Bill — July 18, 2012 @ 7:08 pm

  2. Hooray for Dixon, hope he gets every penny. But it will probably be a good while coming.

    Comment by reddy — July 18, 2012 @ 8:34 pm

  3. What lessons have been learned by the city and what actions will result from this judgment?

    Comment by jayhump — July 20, 2012 @ 1:40 pm

  4. From another site:

    I was one of the jurors and I think there should be an external investigation done on the entire CDA Police Department, we heard all the facts and we made our unanimous decision. Shame on Chief Longo for allowing everything that has happened on his watch! I don’t live in CDA but if I did there would be a lot of questions I would have for the city and as far as the city attorney Mike….he didn’t speak once during the entire trial, he depended solely on the attorney they hired to represent the city whom I will say did a great job defending the city but they just didn’t have the evidence they thought they did and to ruin a 17 year career officers life goes without saying!

    Comment by jayhump — July 20, 2012 @ 1:59 pm

  5. jayhump,

    I believe there does need to be an examination of the City’s involvement and conduct in Dixon, but it initially needs to be done by the Coeur d’Alene City Council. After reviewing Dixon’s initial complaint, the briefs, the depositions, the trial testimony and other evidence, and all the other court filings, the six-member City Council should have enough information to make an informed decision whether to appropriate the money to appeal the decision or to pay the award ordered by the federal court.

    The Council must decide for itself how much weight to give any input the City Attorney may have, but ultimately the decision and responsibility for doing what’s best for the City rests exclusively with the Council. The six Council members, not the City Attorney, are our elected officials, and as our local legislators, they are completely accountable to the City’s electors for making the decision to obligate our money wisely. The City Attorney is not permitted to make that decision; he is nothing more than a hired consultant. Only the Council can make that decision, and it, not the City Attorney, bears the full responsibility for making it and for its consequences.

    Beyond that, the lawsuit was a civil rights action brought under 42 U.S.C. 1983. Dixon prevailed at trial because he demonstrated to the jury and the Court that he was deprived of rights secured by the United States Constitution or federal statutes. That should cause the City Council to diligently seek review of the specific conduct by Dixon’s superiors in the police department and others who may have been involved and acting under color of law to determine what policy and personnel changes may be warranted. That review can not be done objectively by the City or by some hired gun outside consultant who might deliver whatever finding the Mayor and Council might want. To have the public’s trust and confidence, it probably needs to be done by some independent body outside the social, political, and economic influence of anyone in the state of Idaho.

    Comment by Bill — July 21, 2012 @ 5:31 am

  6. Bill-

    I agree with your assessment about having an impartial outside investigation. My sources have said that those responsible for Dixon are well known to the council members and mingle in social settings. Nothing personal against the City Attorney, but he seems to constantly lead down the wrong road. I think the cop on the street does an excellent job. They are hampered by inbred leadership.

    J.H.

    Comment by jayhump — July 21, 2012 @ 6:49 pm

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