Joint motion to dismiss granted in suit over BPD lieutenant promotion

By David Yates | Oct 5, 2011

A joint motion to dismiss was recently granted in a suit over a decision to promote a Beaumont police lieutenant without filling his position or appointing a new sergeant.

In April 2010, the Southeast Texas Record reported that the Beaumont Police Officers Association along with BPD officers Bert Moore, Raymond Shearer and Dean Oliver filed suit against the city of Beaumont, Police Chief Frank Coffin and City Manager Kyle Hayes.

The suit stems from the retirement of Capt. Melissa Ownby and the city's decision to promote Lt. Wayne Jeffcoat in her place, court records show.

The plaintiffs claimed an officer must be promoted to Jeffcoat's lieutenant position according to a December 2006 settlement agreement, but the city failed to fill his vacated lieutenant position.

On Aug. 9 Judge Bob Wortham, 58th District Court, granted a joint motion to dismiss -- dismissing the plaintiffs claims against the defendants with prejudice.

According to the suit, the city agreed to create four new lieutenant positions and to delete four sergeant positions. When one of the lieutenants vacated a position, the position would not be refilled, but a sergeant slot would open in its place.

"Plaintiffs contend that since Lt. Wayne Jeffcoat was not one of the four newly-created Lieutenant's positions referred to in the Breaux settlement, the City is not entitled to delete the position of Lieutenant," the complaint says.

"Pleading further, and in the alternative, if it is found that the settlement agreement allows for the position of any four Lieutenants' positions to be deleted and 'backfilled' by creation of a Sergeant's position, then the City of Beaumont has breached the Settlement Agreement in failing to create a new position of Sergeant in connection with the deletion of the Lieutenant's position."

John Werner of Reaud, Morgan and Quinn in Beaumont represented the plaintiffs.

Senior Assistant City Attorney Quentin Price represented the city.

Case No. A186-653

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