Peter Krouse, Cleveland Plain Dealer, December 15, 2008
A U.S. District Court jury awarded former Police Chief LaMont Lockhart more than $2 million for his retaliation claim brought against the village and its mayor.
Lockhart sued the village and Mayor Yolanda Broadie in 2007 claiming that Broadie’s actions forced him to resign the year before.
Lockhart argued that the mayor harassed him in retaliation for his support of two white Woodmere police officers who Broadie fired. Both Lockhart and Broadie are African-American.
The award includes $800,750 in combined compensatory damages against the village and the mayor and $1.2 million in punitive damages against the mayor.
The evidence showed that Broadie engaged in a pattern of harassment, including unreasonable requests and actions, against Lockhart after officers Amy Mengay and Tim Ellis were let go, said Chuck, Niles, the jury foreman and president of a human resources consulting firm.
But prior to that, Broadie had given Lockhart a glowing performance review, Niles said.
Niles said the jury took particular note of the fact that the day Lockhart returned from an extended sick leave for colitis, the mayor put Lockhart on probation and presented him with a list of nineteen things to do or improve upon.
Earlier this year, officers Mengay and Ellis settled discrimination suits against Woodmere. Mengay received $125,000 and her job back. Ellis, now working for Sagamore Hills Township, received $31,250.
Lockhart is now deputy chief of police for the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. His attorney, Subodh Chandra, said he expects Woodmere and its mayor to appeal the verdict.