November 18th, 2013
Rainey Kizer Attorneys Win Summary Judgment on Behalf of City of Jackson and Mayor
Jackson, TN (November 15, 2013) – U.S. District Judge J. Daniel Breen granted Mayor Jerry Gist and the City of Jackson’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed a claim made by former Jackson police officer, who alleged that he was improperly terminated.
The judge ruled that the City acted in accordance with the law when dismissing Joe Allen from the force for violating the city’s zero-tolerance drug policy when he tested positive for marijuana. The decision cited three reasons: Allen did not have a property interest in his job; the City offered him a name-clearing hearing; and the allegations made against him were true.
The ruling also stated that Mayor Gist did not defame the plaintiff when he told the media that Allen was terminated for testing positive for drug use. The First Amendment requires a public figure to prove that a statement is made with malice to be defamatory. Police officers acting in their official capacities are public figures. The court found that the Mayor’s statement was not made with malice. And the court ruled that there was no defamation because the Mayor’s statement was true.
Attorneys Dale Conder and Matt Courtner with Rainey, Kizer, Reviere & Bell PLC represented the city and Mayor Gist.