Fired Police Chief Wins $3.7M for Blowing Whistle on Mayor
The former police chief of Atlantic City, N.J., has won a $3.7 million jury verdict in his lawsuit against the city for firing him because he blew the whistle on mayoral corruption.
John Mooney, a veteran on the force who had no previous disciplinary problems, lost his job as chief of police in 2010 amid mass layoffs. But Mooney claimed that the layoffs were just an excuse to get rid of him and that the real reason he was fired was because he reported misconduct by Mayor Lorenzo Langford and Public Safety Director Christine Peterson, having to do with police matters and internal investigations.
Mooney’s attorney, John Donnelly, argued that his client was wrongfully terminated.
The jury found that not only was Mooney’s firing illegal retaliation for making a complaint, but that the city acted recklessly and maliciously.
Jurors ordered the city to pay $2.7 million to compensate Mooney for what he would have made until he retired; plus $815,476 to fulfill the contract it had with Mooney that ended Dec. 31, 2012; and $250,000 for damaging his reputation and career.
After the verdict, Mooney said that the jury’s award “sends a message loud and clear to City Hall” and that he was satisfied the jurors were able “to see through the smoke and mirrors.”