In Hill v. Kerr County, No. 18-CV-00897 (W.D. Tex.), we see a classic he-said-she-said case. Plaintiff, Beverly Hill got into a fracas with her husband at home. Ms. Hill and her husband, Tommy Hill, both worked for the Kerr County Sheriff’s Department. Ms. Hill submitted a crime report about the altercation with her husband. The altercation involved alleged assault by Tommy Hill. The Sheriff, Rusty Heirholzer, conducted the investigation.
The Sheriff’s Department had two policies, one prohibiting dating between employees and one prohibiting lying to supervisors. The Sheriff asked Beverly if she had an affair with another deputy. She said yes, but they slept together just once and it was while she was separated from her husband, Tommy. The deputy involved agreed with this story, at first. But, later the deputy said the affair lasted much longer. Allegations then arose that Beverly had affairs with two other deputies, which Beverly denied. But, the second deputy submitted a statement to Sheriff Heirholzer admitting to a brief affair. He said Tommy was okay with it, because Tommy had had his own affair.
In the end, Sheriff Heirholzer fired Beverly for lying to him. The second deputy with whom she admitted to a brief affair, was also fired. Nothing happened to Tommy. At his deposition, Sheriff Heirholzer said he had asked Tommy if he had an affair with someone. The Sheriff said Tommy denied any affairs. Tommy, however, testified in his depositions that Sheriff Heirholzer never asked him about any affairs. This evidence suggests the Sheriff asked Beverly about other affairs, but did not ask Tommy.
Judge Rodriguez noticed the disparity in testimony. Tommy, still employed by the sheriff, denied the Sheriff had asked him about any affairs. Yet, the Sheriff said he did ask Tommy. Of course, at this point in the lawsuit, it was in the Sheriff’s interest to lie. He would want to show he had treated both Beverly and Tommy the same. Credit the judge for picking up on a small but important fact. Tommy had every reason to lie to avoid reprisal. So, his testimony appears to be truthful. Even if it was not truthful, the facts are so muddled that summary judgment was not appropriate. The court denied Defendant’s motion for summary judgment. See the decision here.
The court noted in a footnote that the Defense attorney went to “great lengths” asking Ms. Hill about her sexual history after her termination. Those relationships were not relevant, so the Court disregarded them. But, in mentioning those “great lengths,” the court appeared to disapprove of that line of questioning. Let us all keep in mind that good behavior counts in lawsuits.