Settlement reached in Shumpert firing lawsuit

TUPELO – How much Sheriff Jim Johnson settled on former employee Sheila Shumpert isn’t known, but her lawsuit against him is over.
Friday, U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock signed an order dismissing Shumpert’s lawsuit “due to a settlement.” No amount was revealed.
In December 2006, Shumpert sued Johnson after she was fired because she reportedly violated a department policy when she told an attorney about a jail-beating she had observed a few days before.
Her lawsuit contended she was fired for what she said in reporting the incident to her supervisors and the attorney.
Attorneys for both sides of the lawsuit declined to comment Monday.
Just before Christmas 2008, Aycock ruled that Shumpert was entitled to a $34,000 jury award from Johnson.
“The court finds that Shumpert’s interest in free speech outweighs the defendant’s interest,” Aycock wrote, “and therefore, the court adopts the jury’s verdict of $34,000 in favor of the plaintiff.”
Since then, Shumpert told the court she would give up her push to get her job back, if she could be paid the jury award.
A jury decided for Shumpert after a June trial, and Aycock said Johnson did not offer any evidence that what Shumpert did caused or had the potential to cause a disruption in the workplace or with working relationships.
“Shumpert’s activity cannot be characterized as hostile or abusive,” the judge wrote.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.

Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal