After losing a round in state Supreme Court, the Idaho State Police has reached a $1.3 million settlement with a whistleblower. From the Idaho Press:
It’s been almost four-and-a-half years since Brandon Eller, one of the state police’s crash reconstructionists, filed a lawsuit against the Idaho State Police in January 2015. Eller claimed the agency had retaliated against him after he testified against a Payette County Sheriff’s deputy, who was involved in a 2011 fatal crash while responding to a 911 call.
The deputy, for a time, faced a charge of felony vehicular manslaughter. Eller also took issue with a policy the agency had at the time, directing its troopers to destroy all but final versions of crash reconstruction reports.
Eller sued under whistleblower statutes, claiming the agency retaliated against him. In 2017, a jury awarded him $30,000 in economic damages under the state’s Protections of Public Employees Act. While ruled not eligible for non-economic damages under the whistleblower law, he was awarded $1.5 million for emotional distress. The court reduced that to claim to $1,000,000 because Idaho Tort Claims Act caps damages at $500,000 for each incident. In May, the justices rejected the lower court’s decision.
The Press reports that Eller still works for the ISP.
“I am thankful that my family and I can finally focus on our future with this case behind us,” Eller said in the press release. “Although this has been an extremely stressful undertaking, I close this chapter knowing that the jury’s verdict vindicated not just my rights, but the rights of every government employee in Idaho.”
The National Whistleblower Center was one of the groups filing an amicus curiae brief in the case.
The Boise News story on the case includes a response from the ISP, noting that while disappointed, “we respect the legal process and the rights of our employees to pursue their legal rights.”