Federal Lawsuit against Mayor Crider and City of Milan Continues
JACKSON, Tenn. – After six days of testimony, Chief Judge J. Daniel Breen denies a motion to dismiss a federal human rights lawsuit against Milan Mayor Chris Crider and the City of Milan, Monday. However, Judge Breen did dismiss a part of city employee Lindsey Whitney Taylor’s claim. It had to do with her workload significantly decreasing as a result of her lawsuit against Mayor Crider and the City of Milan. One claim about gathering supplies still remains. Taylor claims she was wrongfully denied opportunities to become a firefighter and E.M.T because of her pending lawsuit against Mayor Crider and the City of Milan. The lawsuit filed in 2009 claimed a violation of her freedom of speech during a closed door conversation with Mayor Crider in his office in Sept. 2008. Taylor claimed Mayor Crider violated her freedom of speech and first amendment rights by not allowing her to communicate with ex-city employee Keri Williams. Taylor’s attorneys said Williams, who was the city recorder, was making allegations of corruption against Mayor Crider at the time. According to officials, Williams was fired by Mayor Crider on Sept. 12, 2008. A jury sided with Taylor’s claim on a First Amendment Rights Violation last Wednesday, and awarded her $50,000. Judge Breen must now decide whether there was discriminatory retaliation against Taylor as a result of her lawsuit. In court, Taylor’s attorney’s said in 2009, after her lawsuit was filed, she was banned from city hall and put into a hostile working environment at the Milan Fire Department. Milan’s former Fire Chief James Fountain spent most of Monday on the stand discussing the department’s budget. City attorney’s argued the reason Taylor was not promoted as a firefighter E.M.T. was because she had never expressed interest in the position to Chief Fountain. Attorneys also argued the promotion was impossible due to budgetary reasons. They said there was not enough money to train and certify Taylor at the time. Taylor’s attorneys showed emails from Mayor Crider to other city employees where he talked about raises. They argued the exchanges suggest finances were not an issue. Taylor’s council also argues training her to be a firefighter E.M.T would not have compromised the budget. Officials said Mayor Crider is expected to take the stand again Tuesday. His attorney’s said they plan to ask for another dismissal after his testimony. Attorneys said there could be a verdict in the case on Tuesday. According to officials, if the judge does not make a ruling by then, he could take this case under advisement and review it further.