Cop sues city over passed promotion

David Yates Aug. 29, 2007, 12:21pm

Many people fantasize suing their employer over not receiving a much deserved raise – but one of Beaumont's finest made it a reality.

Police officer Derrick Wayne Fowler filed suit against the city of Beaumont and the Civil Service Commission, claiming his supervisors and the union president wrongfully orally altered a 2000 contract without informing him and mishandled an examination, which if done correctly – would have promoted Fowler to police sergeant, grade II.

Flower filed his suit with the Jefferson County District Court on Aug. 24, hoping to obtain a Writ of Mandamus from the court ordering the Commission to conduct a "lawful and contractual" examination, "and to make him whole again with back pay and benefits."

According to the plaintiff's original petition, on Aug. 26 and 27, 2003, the city of Beaumont conducted an assessment center for the purpose of establishing an eligibility list for the rank of sergeant, grade II, in the Beaumont Police Department.

In his suit, Fowler claims Lieutenant Jeff Skinner and Union President Riley orally altered a 2000 contract executed between the city the Beaumont Police Officer's Association "to use assessors that were not permitted by the written contract."

"This oral modification to the contract was not published and (Fowler) did not learn of the oral modification until two years later," adding that the revision violated the Business and Commerce Code. "Further, Lt. Skinner and Riley lacked the capacity to modify the three-year contract, orally or otherwise."

The suit goes on to say the defendants failed to give the examination in the presence of the other eligible promotional candidates and refused to allow candidates who wanted to remain during the grading of the examinations to do so. "Defendants wrongfully graded the exercises…"

When Fowler appears before Judge Bob Wortham, 58th Judicial District, he will seek the following from the court:
- Issue a Writ of Mandamus and, after notice and hearing on the first available date on the Court's docket (due to the nature of the alleged transgression and nature of relief requested), enter an order mandating that Defendant Beaumont Civil Service Commission be ordered to immediately conduct a promotional examination, for Police Sergeant, Grade II, in a lawful and contractual manor.
- That Plaintiff be awarded all costs incurred in the prosecution of this cause of action, including costs of court and reasonable attorney's fees; and
- That Plaintiff be awarded prejudgment interest as provided by law; and
- That Plaintiff be awarded post-judgment interest as provided by law;
- That Plaintiff be granted damages in lost wages due to Defendants' negligence, Breach of Contract, and Breach of Statutory Duty; and
- That Plaintiff be granted such other and further relief both in law and in equity, general and special, to which the Plaintiff may show himself to be justly entitled.

"Plaintiff…affirmatively pleads that he is entitled to an award of reasonable and necessary attorneys' fees for the legal services…as well as all costs of court incurred," the suit said.

Fowler is represented by Houston attorney Jonathan Bell of the Munisteri, Sprott, Rigby, Newsom & Robbins law firm.

"The ability to grasp the big picture, but tend to the smallest detail is the cornerstone of the firm's case management service," the firm's Web site said. "Throughout its existence, Munisteri Sprott Rigby Newsom and Robbins, P.C. has successfully handled over 7500 cases for more than 150 major insurance companies, corporations and entities. The attorneys have handled a wide variety of claims."

Case No. A179-888

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