November 17, 2010
The verdict in the case of Long v WSI and the State of North Dakota came in just over two hours after the case went to the jury.
The nine person,. six woman three man jury had to come to a unanimous decision. The jury leader, a 50-ish man, handed the verdict to the bailiff, who in turn handed it to Judge Ronald Goodman. The jury affirmed it was their verdict, and the judge handed it to the Clerk of the Court to read. It found that, by the greater weight of the evidence, that Jim Long did not engage in protected whistleblower activity.
Jim Long slumped over the attorney's table as the verdict was read. The jury looked resolute, the WSI team somber.
Judge Ronald Goodman thanked the jury for their service, saying, "You are the reason we hold our democracy in good stead."
Afterward, none of the jurors were willing to comment.
Plaintiff Jim Long, with his hand over his heart, said "I'm disappointed. I'm shocked but I'm not. No words. I don't know what any state worker can do. I had a spotless personnel record, spotless. How can anybody be so infallible that they can't get back pay, that's all we were asking. It's a bad day."
Long's attorney Tom Tuntland said, "The North Dakota legislature was asked to give public employees the right to sue their employers, and they refused. People call me about it, and I tell them, don't sue, you will destroy yourself. There is no room for honesty and integrity in state government, no room for the truth."
Attorneys for WSI would not comment, preferring that WSI Communications Director Mark Armstrong issue a statement. Armstrong had no comment when I reached him earlier, but said he would reach me later.