Ex-Police Chief Cannot Sue City of Fort Worth to Get Job Back, Judge Says

A Dallas judge has ruled that former Fort Worth police chief Joel Fitzgerald cannot sue the city in an effort to get his job back.

Instead, his lawsuit must name a specific city official or officials.

"For example, perhaps the city manager. Perhaps the assistant city manager, perhaps the Mayor. We're going to assess that," his attorney Stephen Kennedy said after Tuesday’s hearing.

Fitzgerald was fired from his position as the Fort Worth police chief in May 2019. He claims his termination was in retaliation and comes down to a whistleblower complaint after conducting an investigation into alleged city corruption.

The city, however, maintained the decision was due to Fitzgerald's "increasing lack of good judgment" such as the inability to build relationships with other department directors.

Under the ruling Tuesday issued by Judge Gena Slaughter, Fitzgerald's attorneys will have to "re-plead" by amending their petition. This includes adding certain facts and naming specific people.

"The courts have said in order to require a person to take action, a person has to be named, The city is a legal entity that cannot be ordered to take action in this sort of case," explained Fort Worth assistant city attorney Carolyn McFatridge. "We look forward to the plaintiff naming the appropriate party, so we can get these issues resolved promptly."

Another hearing is expected in mid-November when issues surrounding the former chief's request for reinstatement will be considered, according to Kennedy.

"Why not have a public hearing? What are they afraid of? If what Dr. Fitzgerald did was so terribly wrong, why are they afraid to have this public hearing? Why do we have to go to court to ask for it?" he questioned.

Fitzgerald said the quest to getting his job back is about finishing what he started.

"I'm not a quitter," he told reporters after the hearing Tuesday. "It's a very tough time for us. Tough times don't last. Tough guys do."

The hearing is expected to be held the week of Nov. 18.

Contact Us