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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Dec 1, 2014

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Christopher D. Markel and Wilson C. von Kessler, II, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Phyllis Louise Bige.

Attorneys 2:

Nathan D. Rowell and Brian R. Bibb, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, City of Etowah.

Judge(s): SUSANO

Phyllis Louise Bige, a former police officer with the City of Etowah, brought this retaliatory discharge action against the City, alleging that she was fired because of her failure to meet a quota for citations. Her claim was predicated on Tenn. Code Ann § 39-16-516 (2014). The trial court granted defendant summary judgment, finding that an earlier judgment of the United States District Court dismissing plaintiff’s federal claims – including a claim that her substantive due process rights were violated because defendant required her to commit an illegal act – collaterally estopped plaintiff from proceeding with her retaliatory discharge claim under Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-1-304 (2014). We affirm the summary judgment of the trial court, but on different grounds. We hold that defendant demonstrated plaintiff’s evidence is insufficient to establish a genuine issue of material fact as to two essential elements of her claim – (1) that she refused to participate in an illegal activity, and (2) that defendant fired her solely because of her refusal to participate in an illegal activity. We affirm the grant of summary judgment.