Fired Medina police chief, after $2M award, won’t take job back
Former Medina Police Chief Jeffrey Chen, after receiving a $2 million jury award because of racial discrimination, says he won’t seek to return to work under City Manager Donna Hanson, who fired him.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Jeffrey Chen won’t be returning to the Medina Police Department.
The former police chief, who won a $2 million award from a jury that found he had lost his job as the result of racial discrimination, has told the court he doesn’t want his job back.
A U.S. District Court jury last week concluded City Manager Donna Hanson discriminated against Chen, who is Chinese American, on the basis of his race or national origin when she fired him in early 2011.
The verdict gave Chen the option of asking the court to order him reinstated to his former position.
But in a post-trial briefing filed Tuesday, Chen’s attorney said he is opting instead to receive $1.65 million in lost future earnings — the portion of the jury award he would have to give up if he went back to his old job.
Chen’s attorney, Marianne Jones, told the court that the City Council “has not taken any steps to address and correct the causes of Chief Chen’s injuries.”
Chen would have sought to return to work “if Ms. Hanson had resigned or if the City Council had taken some action acknowledging the validity of the verdict,” Jones wrote. She said Chen also would be uncomfortable “asking the court to oust another innocent person from their hard-earned job, namely Chief Mark Thomas.”
Jones also asked Judge Thomas Zilly to boost Chen’s award by $445,227 to offset the tax he would pay on a lump-sum payment, and by $291,901 to offset the tax he would pay on the $445,227 adjustment.
Those adjustments would raise the total award to more than $2.6 million.
The city’s response to those requests is due Friday.
Attorneys for the city, who portrayed Chen as a corrupt officer who deserved to be fired, said it would be inappropriate to reinstate Chen because Hanson would be unable to adequately supervise him and he would be unable to adequately supervise subordinates who had testified against him.
The city, in a news release last week, said it will review legal options, including whether to appeal.
After the trial, defense attorney Suzanne Michael said the city would ask the judge to order a new trial or set aside the verdict, saying it “was not based on any evidence, much less substantive evidence.”
Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or firstname.lastname@example.org