A terminated employee sued the Town of Cicero claiming that the Town violated his First Amendment rights by firing him because he supported a political opponent of the Town President. A jury found in his favor, and awarded him $650,000 in damages. The district court judge, however, granted the Town's motion for a new trial based on allegations that the employee's attorney had engaged in serious misconduct during the trial. Specifically, the judge determined that the attorney made misleading statement to the jury, elicited heresay that she knew was prejudicial to theTown, and undermined the credibility of a defense witness without a good-faith basis for believing the questions were proper. Rojas v. Town of Cicero (7th Cir. 2015).
Before the second trial began, the case settled, but the Town's motion for sanctions for the plaintiff's attorney misconduct was not resolved through the settlement. The district court denied the motion for sanctions, and the Town appealed to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. That Court reversed the denial in part, and remanded the case back to the trial court to determine the appropriate amount of sanctions for the attorney's misconduct, with instructions that the district court judge consider the attorneys' substantial disciplinary history.
Post authored by Julie Tappendorf