- Tanisha Ross-Paige is expected to take home $3million, minus legal fees
- Lawsuit filed in 2012 claimed Sgt Steven Gori made a ‘wanted’ poster that read: ‘Subject wanted for having the baddest body in the St. Louis area’
- Gori allegedly asked the married Ross-Paige to sit on his lap and go skinny-dipping in his hot tub
- When the officer’s dog was retired, it was given to a groundskeeper rather than to her
A former St Louis police officer has been awarded a $7.5million judgment after claiming in a lawsuit that her superior sexually harassed her and she suffered retaliation for complaining.
Tanisha Ross-Paige, a one-time canine officer, won $300,000 in compensatory damages and $7.2 million in punitive damages from the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners Friday in what has been described as possibly the highest verdict in such a case in Missouri’s history.
However, the jury sided with the police board on a discrimination claim.
‘It’s absolutely huge for this type of case,’ said John Eccher, one of the lawyers who represented Ross-Paige.
He said he had asked jurors to send a message with a verdict that was high enough that ‘everyone will take notice that retaliation and discrimination in the workplace end today.’
Ryan Paulus, another of Ross-Paige’s lawyers, estimated that his client would eventually take home about $3million, minus legal fees.
The lawyers added that the legal maximum could grow if the police board appeals the ruling.
Ross-Paige’s original lawsuit filed in 2011 claimed that her then-supervisor, Sgt. Steven Gori, created and distributed a mock ‘Wanted’ poster with her picture and comments about her body.
The notice read: ‘Subject wanted for having the worst body in the St. Louis area,’ and ‘Use extreme caution when approaching this subject. Approach this subject from behind for your own safety.’
The lawsuit also claimed Gori asked the married Ross-Paige to sit on his lap, take off her bullet-proof vest so that he could ‘see what [she is] working with,’ and invited her to skinny-dip in his hot tub.
According to the complaint cited by the St Louis Post-Dispatch, Gori, and then-Lt. Michael Deeba began giving Ross-Paige bad shifts and different performance reviews than her colleagues, and denying her time off for training after she filed a complaint with the department in June 2011.
Ross-Paige’s lawsuit alleged that Gori threatened to take her police dog, Duncan, away if she did not agree to date him.
When Duncan was retired, he was given to a groundskeeper rather than to Ross-Paige, his partner, as was customary.
Ross-Paige joined the force in 2005 and the canine unit in 2008. She filed her lawsuit on December 22, 2011.
Then on January 4, 2012, she was injured by another canine officer’s dog during a training exercise, lawyers said, permanently disabling her.
Her lawyers said she moved to Baltimore fearing further retaliation and has separated from her husband.
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