Appeals court tosses $7.7 million whistleblower case award
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey appellate court has reversed a $7.7 million jury award to a former Department of Corrections employee in a whistleblower case.
The panel also ordered a new trial after it found the trial judge improperly admitted evidence that undermined the jury’s 2015 verdict in favor of Lisa Easley in her suit against the department.
Easley claimed she was fired for cooperating with a federal investigation of former deputy commissioner Lydell Sherrer. He was convicted of soliciting bribes from employees, including Easley, in exchange for guaranteed employment.
After an internal investigation found Easley solicited bribes for Sherrer, she was fired.
The department contended evidence presented to the jury depicted Easley as a victim. Its lawyers argued she wasn’t a whistleblower because she only cooperated after being approached by the FBI and subpoenaed to testify.