Former Cherokee Nation Employee Wins First Civil Lawsuit Against Tribe in 120 Years

KTUL - August 29, 2022 6:45 am

A former Cherokee Nation firefighter won the first civil lawsuit against the tribe in 120 years.

A Cherokee jury awarded David Comingdeer $615,000 after he alleged tribal administrators retaliated against him for whistleblowing on mismanagement of a fire protection grant, according to trial attorney Michael Moore.

“Comingdeer claimed he was retaliated against by his employer with a series of disciplinary actions that resulted in the end of his firefighting career with the Cherokee Nation and led to his constructive discharge,” Moore said in a media release.

Moore, along with former Principal Chief Chad Smith, represented Comingdeer in his case.

The jury unanimously decided the Cherokee Nation violated Comingdeer’s freedom of speech and created intolerable conditions after less than an hour of deliberation.

Moore told the jury the trial was a historic moment in rebuilding the Cherokee Nation. Smith argued that the jury’s verdict would encourage Cherokee employees to report waste, abuse, and fraud that they may witness without fear of retaliation by the Nation.

Moore said it is believed the jury verdict is the largest known civil verdict against the tribe in its history.


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