JURY RETURNS VERDICT FOR DEPUTY U.S. MARSHAL OF $1,350,000.00
On July 14, 2008, a jury of five men and three women at the federal court in San Juan, Puerto Rico, reached a verdict in the amount of $1,350,000.00, in favor of our client, Mick Orr, the former Assistant Chief Deputy United States Marshal for the District of Puerto Rico, in his case against the United States Marshals Service.
Orr, 51, the Assistant Chief from 1999 to 2001, claimed that while he was Assistant Chief, then-United States Marshal Herman Wirshing and his Acting Chief, Juan Donato-Morales, discriminated against him because he is not from Puerto Rico, and retaliated against him because he protested the failure to promote, by denying him promotion to Chief and subjecting him to a hostile work environment.
Orr presented evidence over nine days of trial, which convincingly demonstrated that Wirshing made numerous statements to the effect that he intended to promote only Puerto Ricans within management, and backed up those statements by manipulating the Marshals Service's personnel system with the assistance of headquarters personnel in Arlington, Virginia, in an elaborate scheme designed to keep Orr from ascending to Chief, and to advance Donato's chances of obtaining the job. The evidence revealed that Donato never did become the permanent chief because of an incident that caused him to leave the Service altogether.
Before Orr left Puerto Rico in despair in early 2001, Wirshing and Donato carried out a pattern of harassment and intimidation against Orr and those who did not agree to participate in isolating him. Significant evidence was presented in the case that five local Puerto Rico police officers assigned to work as subordinates to Orr in his capacity as leader of the Puerto Rico Fugitive Task Force were fired from the task force by Wirshing because they were viewed as loyal to Orr, including one who provided detailed testimony of how Donato called him away from the scene of a near arrest of a fugitive, to inform him that he was summarily fired from the task force without explanation. One of those officers was also denied a position in the Marshals Service that Wirshing had previously promised her. The police officers, as well as Marshals Service deputies on the Fugitive Task Force were asked by Donato if they were “Netas” or “insectos”, analogizing to a conflict between the powerful prison gang and the snitches, implying that the officers should join Donato's gang. Deputies from the continental United States were belittled by references to them as “f-ing gringos” and sometimes a “gringo maricon (faggot).” Donato was quoted as saying that “these gringos are like the plague.” Orr was explicitly placed under the authority of Donato, even though Donato was a lower-graded employee under the Marshals Service's national promotional system. He was warned of the obvious that there was an attempt underway to “screw him up” and was otherwise retaliated against. The jury returned a verdict for 1.35 Million Dollars. The agency was then ordered to pay the statutory maximum of $300,000.00, plus full back pay, and to instate the Plaintiff into a GS-15 or equivalent position (which it then did). Later, the case was concluded with payment of attorneys' fees and costs.