First African American Deputy's Retaliation Claim Against Clackamas County Carries the Day
by Michael Fox
Following a detailed rendition of the troubles that occurred following his complaints of racial remarks, the 9th Circuit has no trouble in finding that plaintiff was retaliated against for raising them. In addition to making you want to be careful about driving through certain parts of Oregon, it is another example of where the proximity of the retaliation to the protected conduct was sufficient to support the jury's finding of retaliation. Bell v. Clackamas County (9th Cir. 8/20/03). Since the retaliation case was clear, the Court did not need to review the racial discrimination finding since the damages would have been redundant.
Even though the jury had awarded punitive damages, they had been reduced by the district court. The 9th Circuit, remanded finding Desert Palace v. Costa's holding on the sufficiency of circumstantial evidence applicable to the award of punitive damages as well as liability. It also charged the lower court to review the amount of damages assessed againt the individuals on an individual basis, rather than as a group. And as a break for the plaintiffs' attorneys who had seen their hourly rate reduced to $175 from $200, the Court ordered that it be restored to $200 an hour, or at least reconsidered without relying on an unpublished opinion that had set the lower rate.