KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CN) – A state appeals court reduced by $6 million a $6.5 million judgment to a former Kansas City police officer who claimed he was fired because he is black.
A three-judge panel of the Western District Court of Appeals reduced Danny Holmes’ award to $500,000 in actual and punitive damages.
While the court found that Holmes’ race was a contributing factor in his firing, it ruled that Holmes’ whistleblower claim was barred due to sovereign immunity, and that he did not have a contractual right to sue for wrongful termination.
“Mr. Holmes attempts to distinguish Bennartz and Brooks by arguing that these cases did not involve section 84.600’s requirement that KCPD officers may only be terminated for cause,” Judge Thomas H. Newton wrote for the court. “While the statute expresses the legislative intent that KCPD officers may only be terminated for cause and provides for public hearing procedures before the board, we do not equate this with an intent to abrogate sovereign immunity and open the board to private suit for wrongful discharge.”
Judges Alok Ahuja and James E. Welsh concurred
Holmes was suspended without pay in August 2006, and fired 17 months later.
A prosecutor had accused him of lying, in the course of a murder investigation, about whether he had been in the suspect’s apartment.