Diaz v. City of Inkster

Plaintiff Thomas Diaz is a Puerto-Rican Lieutenant with the Inkster Police Department. When the Inkster Police Department Chief retired, Diaz applied for and was denied the Chief's position in favor of an African-American. Diaz later applied for Commander and Deputy Chief positions. He was similarly rejected in favor of an African-American candidate.

Diaz brought suit for race discrimination under the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, 42 USC §1981 and 42 USC §1983. He also asserted a retaliation claim based on the protected activity of filing the lawsuit.

Many current and former members of the department testified in the six day trial. One individual was the successful candidate for both the Commander and later the Deputy Chief positions. He testified during trial that he had a bachelor's degree from Western Michigan University. He also testified that he misrepresented his academic program on his resume.

Suspecting that the successful candidate had no degree whatsoever from Western Michigan University, Plaintiff's paralegal, Maureen Proffitt, served a subpoena on the WMU general counsel's office and obtained an immediate response that the successful candidate had never even attended Western Michigan University. The city then stipulated that its Deputy Chief had no such degree and never attended Western Michigan University.

The jury returned a verdict on all discrimination counts of $253,000, including $45,000 in back-pay, $68,000 in non-economic damages and $140,000 in future economic damages. The jury found that Plaintiff had proved his 42 USC §1983 case by establishing that the City had a policy and practice of granting preferences to African-Americans in promotion. The jury found no retaliation based on the filing of the lawsuit.

The court entered judgment and awarded attorney fees of approximately $125,000, and prejudgment interest from the date of filing of the complaint in the approximate amount of $45,000. After the City appealed, the case settled for a confidential amount.

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