Judge throws out $186,000 verdict awarded to Iowan
KEOKUK (AP) — A dispute between a southeast Iowa county and its former maintenance director is likely headed for the state Supreme Court after a judge rejected an $186,000 verdict in the lawsuit.
Earlier this year, a jury said Lee County should pay Rick Carter that much. The Keokuk Daily Gate City reports that a judge ruled last week that the case shouldn't have gone to the jury.
Carter will likely appeal the decision. He says he was fired because he reported problems with the Lee County Jail during its construction and accused the County Board of malfeasance.
In addition to vacating the verdict awarding Carter $186,000, the judge also ordered him to pay the cost of the trial.
Lawyers in the case said part of the problem is that Iowa's whistle-blower law hasn't been tested much in court. So it's not clear how it should be applied to Carter's case.
Carter's attorney, Curtis Dial, said there is conflicting case law about who can file lawsuits under the state whistle-blower law and how the law should be applied.
Lee County's attorney, Steven Ort, said one case suggests Carter might not have been eligible to file this lawsuit.