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County Attorney prevails in “Whistleblower” lawsuit

Harris County Attorney Mike Stafford stated that on July 15, 2003, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, sitting in New Orleans, affirmed judgment in Harris County’s favor in Marilyn Murr Doyle v. Harris County.

Dr. Doyle, a former Assistant Medical Examiner at the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office, sued Harris County alleging that she was wrongfully discharged from employment in violation of the Texas Whistleblower Act and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

At the conclusion of a fourteen-day july trial, the jury returned a $250,002 verdict against Harris County. Thereafter, Dr. Doyle’s attorneys sought recovery of more than $500,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs.

Upon review, United States District Judge Melinda Harmon overturned the jury verdict and granted judgment as a matter of law in Harris County’ s favor, finding that “a reasonable trier of fact could not have found as the jury did in this case.”

On Dr. Doyle’s appeal, the Fifth Circuit affirmed judgment in Harris County’s favor, finding that Dr. Doyle’ s theory of recovery was “pure speculation.”

Stafford said that he was pleased with the judgment because he “never believed the taxpayers of Harris County should pay even one penny on this claim.”