LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) – A judge has awarded former Louisville Metro Police Lt. Jimmy Harper's attorneys about $182,000 in fees for their work in a whistleblower lawsuit in which Harper claimed he was demoted by the police chief for speaking out about problems within the department.
The attorneys, led by Thomas Clay, had asked for more than $240,000 and the city had countered with an offer of $133,050.
Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Angela McCormick Bisig noted in her Dec. 21 ruling that she was taking into account the "partial success" of the Harper verdict. Several of Harper’s claims were rejected by a jury in an August trial, but jurors did find that Harper was "engaged in protected activity in attempting to report to the Mayor what he believed to be mismanagement" by the police department.
The jury awarded Harper $300,000 in damages, and Bisig ruled his attorneys were entitled to fees, though reduced from the requested amount.
"This rate reduction is also balancing the parties’ successes on the merits," Bisig ruled.
The city is required to pay attorney fees as part of the state's whistleblower law, but the judge ultimately determines the amount.
Clay said he was pleased with the judge’s decision and that it represented "further indication how fairly we were treated."
A spokesman for the Jefferson County Attorney’s office, which represented police and the city, did not immediately return a message.
Harper’s suit claimed he was demoted from the rank of major by Chief Steve Conrad in retaliation for speaking out to Mayor Greg Fischer about how the department was being run.
Clay had also asked Bisig to force the department to reinstate Harper's rank as major, but she denied that request.
The judge concluded that reinstating Harper would not be good for the department and the public's best interest.
Harper retired on Oct. 31.
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